Congress Stares At Threat Of Losing Opposition Status In Odisha Assembly
With two back-to-back resignations of legislators, the Congress is facing the threat of losing its status as the main opposition party in the Odisha Assembly.
The party currently has 13 members in the 147-member House, two less than the required strength.
According to rules, a party needs to have at least 10 per cent of the total seats in the House to be considered as the main opposition.
Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das, who joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on January 24 after quitting the Congress, formally resigned from the Assembly on Monday. Speaker PK Amat has accepted his resignation.
"As I have joined the BJD, I have no moral rights to continue as a Congress MLA," Mr Das told reporters.
Last week, Sundergarh MLA Jogesh Singh had also resigned from the Assembly, after being suspended from the Congress for alleged anti-party activities.
In November last year, Koraput MLA Krushna Chandra Sagaria had also resigned as a Congress MLA.
Around the same time, George Tirkey, the lone legislator of the Samata Kranti Dal, had joined the party.
The grand old party had faced a jolt last year when three-time MLA Subal Sahu passed away in August. His wife Rita Sahu won the seat in the subsequent bypoll on a BJD ticket.
Altogether, 16 Congress MLAs were elected to the Assembly after the 2014 polls, but the party, at present, is left with just 13 legislators.
The House is scheduled to meet for its budget session on February 4, where the Speaker is likely to take a call on the status of the party.
Leader of Opposition in the House and senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said the speaker's decision would not have any effect on him.
"If the Congress loses the status of the opposition party in the Assembly, the state government will take away the vehicle allotted to me and the two staff engaged at my official residence. So what? I used to criticise the government when I was not the leader of opposition and would continue to do so," he said.
A senior BJD leader, when asked for his reaction, said it was unlikely that the speaker would change the status of the Congress as the main opposition party, given the fact that it was the last Assembly session before the election.
The Assembly polls in Odisha are due, along with the Lok Sabha election, this year.