What is seen as a fresh attempt to embarrass the government, BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy accused Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari of misleading the Assembly by giving false information on Potato Mission and the number of functional cold storages.
Drawing the attention of Speaker SN Patro during zero hour on Thursday, the former agriculture minister said he was deeply hurt by Pujari’s adverse comments against him in the House while replying to questions on Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department on Wednesday.
“I have not taken any food since Wednesday as I am extremely hurt by the minister’s statement. He (Pujari) should not be under the impression that he will shut my mouth by giving such a false statement against me”, Maharathy remarked. He urged the Speaker to expunge the remarks from the records of the Assembly or else he will not attend this session.
The former agriculture minister on the previous day tried to corner the government by asking questions which were intended to expose the failure of the government. The minister had shot back to Maharathy by reminding that it was his failure.
Replying to a series of questions pertaining to Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department, Pujari had on Wednesday said there are 128 cold storages in the State, of which only 48 are active and the rest defunct. He further stated that the Potato Mission which was launched and ended during Maharathy’s tenure as Agriculture Minister failed to take off and the state government is planning to revive it.
“When I was the agriculture minister, only 24 cold storages were in operation in the state. I increased the number to 48,” Maharathy said. He had further said the area of potato cultivation was raised from 12,000 hectares to 25,000 hectares under the Potato Mission.
Asking Pujari to refrain from questioning his ability and sincerity, Maharathy said the State received Krishi Karman award four times in a row during his tenure. In his ruling, the Speaker said ‘objectionable’ remarks, if any, should be expunged from the Assembly records. However, this was opposed by BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra arguing that the Minister had not made any disparaging remarks against the Pipili MLA.