Opposition takes Orissa speaker issue to governor

March 28th, 2008 - 4:31 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, March 28 (IANS) Leaders from opposition parties Friday met Orissa Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare and submitted a memorandum over the alleged sexual harassment of a lady employee by Speaker Maheswar Mohanty. “Maheswar Mohanty has no right to stay as speaker,” the Leader of Opposition in the assembly and former chief minister J.B. Patnaik who led the delegation told media persons after submitting the memorandum.

“He should resign,” said Patnaik. “We sought intervention of the governor into the matter.

“Only an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can bring out the truth. The governor told us to examine the matter after consulting constitutional experts and assured he would do the needful.”

Women activists and workers of opposition parties have been demonstrating in several towns including Bhubaneswar since Thursday protesting against Mohanty after a woman marshal of the state assembly said that he was sexually harassing her.

They also burnt Mohanty’s effigy at several places.

Gayatri Panda, 29, who is the first and only assistant woman marshal in the state assembly and was recently suspended on a negligence of duty charge, sent a written complaint to the special women’s police station here Thursday.

“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 told IANS, adding that he used to send his driver to her residence late in the night to fetch her.

According to Panda, she had lodged a written complaint with the secretary of the assembly Feb 21 but he did not take any action.

In her complaint, Panda said she could not go to the police station as unknown people were threatening her. She alleged that the speaker often made vulgar gestures and approached her for sexual gratification through his staff.

“We have lodged the complaint in a station diary but are yet to register it as a first information report as we need to verify the signature of the complainant. We are trying to contact her,” a police officer said.

The issue rocked the assembly for the second day Thursday with the opposition Congress demanding Mohanty’s resignation and refusing to let the house function. The house was adjourned till Saturday.

Mohanty denied the allegation and opted for a probe by the house but the opposition parties led by Congress were not ready for it.

Wednesday and Thursday the state government convened an all-party meeting to decide on the mode of inquiry into the allegation but the meeting was inconclusive.

“The opposition is making an unjustified demand,” said Damodar Rout, secretary general of the ruling Biju Janata Dal.

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