Orissa speaker quits after sex row

March 31st, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Bhubaneswar, March 31 (IANS) Orissa Speaker Maheswar Mohanty Monday resigned after a women employee of the state’s legislative assembly accused him of sexual harassment, even as the chief minister sacked a minister for allegedly conspiring against the speaker. Mohanty resigned as the demand for his ouster was growing, particularly after the police registered a case against him on the basis of the complaint of the only woman marshal of the assembly, Gayatri Panda.

Speaker Mohanty said he was resigning to uphold the dignity of the house and to enable the government to conduct a smooth inquiry into the charges against him.

“I have resigned because I want a smooth inquiry (into the case),” Mohanty told reporters after submitting his resignation to Deputy Speaker Prahlad Dora.

The opposition parties led by the Congress had stalled the proceedings of the assembly last week demanding an independent probe into the allegations. Mohanty denied the charge and opted for a probe by the house but that did not satisfy the opposition.

The ruling coalition says the whole thing is a conspiracy against the speaker.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik sacked one of his cabinet colleagues for his alleged role in the “conspiracy”.

Patnaik alleged Sports Minister Debashis Nayak was involved in conspiring against Mohanty.

“I have lost confidence and trust in Debashis Nayak. He may please be removed from the state cabinet with immediate effect,” the chief minister wrote to Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare.

Nayak was not available for a comment.

Panda, 29, who was recently suspended on charges of negligence of duty, had alleged in her complaint that Mohanty harassed her after she refused to provide sexual favours.

“I have been working in the assembly since 2001 but I have never faced such humiliation. Mohanty wanted sexual favours from me. When I did not show interest, he started taking vindictive action against me,” Panda had said.

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