As the winter session of Odisha Assembly got underway on Wednesday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik put his own party MLAs on notice, calling for full attendance and active participation, which, he said, would be monitored by party leaders.
According to sources in the party, Patnaik conveyed the message to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLAs in person during a meeting on Tuesday.
Requesting anonymity, two senior BJD MLAs told The Indian Express that while the message is nothing out of the ordinary, the language and framing of the notice “infantilises” legislators in the eyes of the people.
“It is expected that the CM will lay down a code of conduct for BJD MLAs. What is the necessity of doing so in writing and circulating it among journalists,” one of the MLAs asked.
The notice stated, “I would like all the members to be punctual and sincere in attending the House. Anyone who needs more than two days’ leave will get it sanctioned from me. I am very serious about members’ attendance this time”.
Asking members to “actively participate” in debates, Patnaik’s notice stated, “I would particularly be watching the performance of first-time members.” It stated that the government’s Chief Whip would submit a daily attendance to the Chief Minister by 11.30 am.
The notice also said that the MLAs would be required to submit a bi-monthly report to the CM. The notice explained, “The mandate in Patkura and Bijepur by-elections is again a reminder of how much faith people have in the Biju Janata Dal. This should make all of us work hard in a transparent and committed manner.”
Reacting to criticism of the notice, BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty said, “A regular process (attendance and debate participation in the House) is being made transformative this time around. This House has a lot of young legislators and first-time members from different backgrounds. The CM is keen that they should have complete experience of an Assembly session.”