The Congress failed to put the BJD on the mat on the issue of moving a resolution for the removal of Assembly Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat. It not only failed to muster required support to ensure a discussion on this matter, but also had to see a revolt within the party cadres.
The support of 28 MLAs was required to support adoption of such a resolution against the Speaker. With 27 MLAs in its kitty, Congress wanted to rein in the Independents. It did get the support of Independent MLAs Jitu Patnaik (Joda) and Braja Pradhan (Talcher). Even the party brought Kotpad MLA Basudev Majhi in a wheelchair, as he has been ailing for long. Still, it had to bite the dust, as two party MLAs Nihar Ranjan Mahananda and Mamata Madhi defied the whip to abstain from the Assembly on the D-day.
Nihar Mahananda (Attabira) defended his absence, saying he was busy in NAC elections in his constituency. And, Mamata Madhi did not come because of the Malkangiri Badh call given by the Congress on April 4. Their absence exposed the “unity” within the Congress and helped the cause of the BJD further. The Congress fell short of the magic number by one. Since the party did not seek the support of the BJP in this matter, the saffron party did not come to their rescue.
The rift within the Congress came to light immediately after the debacle in the Assembly, as Kantabanji MLA Santosh Singh Saluja blamed the party leadership for the mess and vowed to take up the matter to the High Command in Delhi.