Congress, BJP demand Odisha Agriculture minister’s resignation

Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:  Opposition Congress and BJP Thursday demanded the resignation of Odisha Agriculture minister, Pradeep Maharathy for his comments on the acquittal of two persons arrested in connection with Pipili gang rape incident, which has hurt the sentiment of women in the state.

          A Bhubaneswar court on Monday had acquitted the two persons arrested in connection with the case. After the court judgement Maharathy had said, “My sympathies are with the victim but I honour the courts judgement. I had then told that truth will prevail.”

          Denouncing Maharathy’s comment, senior BJP leader and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan said the Agriculture minister’s statement indicated the “flawed policies of the state government on women and scheduled caste.”

          Congress women activists on Thursday staged demonstration before the minister’s official residence here and hurled tomatoes and eggs, while the BJP Mahila Morcha demanded Maharathy’s exclusion from the ministry and handing over the case to CBI.

          Police arrested about 40 activists of Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress on charge of hurling tomatoes and eggs at the official residence of the Agriculture minister.

          “About 40 women Congress activists were arrested as a preventive measure as they assembled before the minister’s house and attempted to barge into his campus,” said Bhubaneswar ACP Sanjay Singh.

          “We will continue agitation till the minister is expelled from the ministry,” Odisha Mahila Congress chief Sumitra Jena said, adding that Maharathy’s comment has hurt the sentiment of women.

          The BJP has threatened to take to streets if Maharathy is not removed from the state cabinet in next 24 hours.

          A 19-year-old girl was found unconscious and semi- naked in a paddy field on November 28, 2011. She succumbed on June 21, 2012 after remaining semi-comatose in SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

          Maharathy had to resign from the ministry then in the face of a statewide hue and cry for allegedly sheltering the accused persons.

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