Dalit and tribal MLAs of Odisha Friday prostrated before Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on the floor of the Assembly after failing to convince him over the pending amendment to Odisha Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1975.
Patnaik did not bat an eyelid as the legislators begged and fell at his feet. The chief minister then turned around and walked away as BJD legislators formed a protective ring around him.
The Dalit and tribal MLAs have been sitting in the well of the House since Thursday night, demanding amendment and implementation of the Odisha Reservation of Vacancies (ORV) Act. They are also demanding more reservation for SC/ST students in medical, engineering and other professional colleges on the lines of general colleges, where reservation was enhanced to 22.5 per cent for ST and 16.25 per cent for SC candidates in the academic session of 2015-16.
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The legislators shifted the venue of their dharna to the well of the House after being allegedly evicted by security personnel from outside the CM’s chamber in the Assembly on Thursday.
“There is nothing wrong in prostrating before the Leader of the House in the interest of 38 per cent of the state’s population. We followed the Odia culture to put forth our demands. But the honourable Chief Minister, who has an unkind heart, ignored us,” said Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi, adding that he has sought support from all the lawmakers, irrespective of their political parties, to fight for the downtrodden.
BJP MLA Rabi Naik said the protesting MLAs have not brought any disrepute to the sanctity of the Assembly.