Ruckus over fuel price hike, teachers’ strike in Assembly

Bhubaneswar:  Pandemonium marked the second day of the monsoon session of the state Assembly over hike in fuel prices and teachers’ agitation, forcing Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat to adjourn the House twice Wednesday.

Soon after the House assembled at 10.30 am for the day, Congress members led by Opposition chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati rushed to the well and shouted anti-Centre slogans against the “unusual” hike in fuel prices in the country.

As the Congress members agitated, BJP MLAs of the opposition also stood up and raised slogans against the BJD government. They demanded of the state government to take immediate steps to end the strike by teachers.

Unable to conduct the business, Amat adjourned the proceedings till 11.30 am.

However, soon after the House reconvened, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra came down heavily on the NDA government at the Centre and accused it of “looting” the people due to its failure to control the soaring fuel prices.

“When the price of crude oil in the international market was USD 147 per barrel in 2008, petrol was available at Rs 45 per litre in our country. However, now when the price in the international market has dropped to USD 70-80 per barrel, petrol is sold at Rs 80 per litre. This shows that the only intention of the Centre is to loot the consumers of petroleum products,” Mishra said.

Instead of offering a solution to the price hike, the state government and Centre are advising each other for reduction of tax levied on the fuel products, he said.

The Congress leader urged the Modi government to bring petrol and diesel under the purview of GST. “When you (Centre) are shouting about ‘one nation one tax’, you should bring petrol and diesel under the purview of GST,” he demanded.

Targeting the state government on the issue of protesting teachers, Mishra said, “The teachers of the state are on the streets. Schools across the state have become non-functional. Unfortunately, we have a government, which is not intervening in their issue.”

“Education is a fundamental right which can be provided if we have good teachers. Good teachers can be created by giving them a good salary which means equal pay for all teachers,” he pointed out.

Notably, many teachers are agitating since August 16, demanding removal of the affidavit clause in the newly-announced grant-in-aid system, equal salary for equal work, provision of full aid and several other service conditions.

Mishra stated that the teachers are demanding regular grant-in-aid and equal facility, both of which are availed by the teachers in government schools.

The Leader of the Opposition also demanded early meeting of Selection Committee of House for recruitment in various posts in the Assembly Secretariat.

None of the BJP members could speak as the House was adjourned again till 12.30 pm due to the vociferous protests of the Congress members.

BJP MLA Pradip Purohit addressed the Press outside the assembly saying, “Academic activities in various schools and colleges are affected due to the strike in the capital. The state government should take immediate steps to end the strike.”