Minister offers to quit politics, if found guilty in Q' leak



Bhubaneswar: The issue of class-XII question paper leak rocked Odisha Assembly on Monday with the Opposition and the Treasury benches holding each other responsible for it.

While Congress MLAs demanded resignation of Higher Education Minister Badrinarayan Patra and accused his family members of being instrumental in the question paper leak, ruling BJD members blamed Congress MP Bhakta Charan Das and the Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh for recommending certain colleges to be made examination centres.

Patra announced he will take "sanyas" (retirement) from politics, if his family is found involved in the issue.

The issue was debated in the Assembly for over four hours where members cutting across party lines expressed concern over the question paper leak.

The issue was raised by Congress members during Zero Hour and it was also debated through an adjournment motion.

"Chemistry question paper was leaked from Anchalika Mahalinga Mohavidyalay in Kalahandi district. Bhakta Charan Das in a letter to the higher education secretary had requested that Anchalika Mahalinga Mohavidyalay be made an examination centre," claimed BJD deputy whip Sanjay Dasburma.

He also alleged that Congress leader Bhupinder Singh had made a similar recommendation for making a college an examination centre.

Alleging that the government was trying to shift attention from the original issue, Singh said "The state government at the insistence of the Chief Minister, has been trying to dishonour the people of Kalahandi. We will not tolerate the insult."

Replying to the debate, Patra said "We have taken all possible security measures to avoid any further leak of question papers. In case we find any deviation from the attempts made for a full-proof examination, steps will be taken to cancel recognition and affiliation of such colleges."

Meanwhile, the state government has cancelled the Mahalinga Anchalik college examination centre in Kalahandi district, which was a source of the leak, Patra said adding that the centre superintendent BK Jena has been remanded to judicial custody in this connection.

The examinees of the college will appear the rest of the Plus II test at Golamunda college, around 10 km away, he said.

Kantabanjhi Congress MLA Santosh Saluja alleged that two examination centers have been set up in Angul district on the recommendations of higher education minister. He also demanded verification of telephone records of Patra between February 24 and 26 to substantiate his allegation.

Expressing displeasure over the minister's reply, the Congress MLAs walked out of the assembly, demanding Patra's resignation besides a judicial probe into the question paper leak incidents.

Question papers of Physics and Chemistry were leaked during the ongoing Plus-II examination being conducted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE). While Physics paper examination had been cancelled, the date of Chemistry examination was rescheduled to March 30. The examination of Physics paper would be held on March 25, Patra said.

Meanwhile, rejecting allegations against him, Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das demanded a judicial inquiry to prove truth behind the BJD allegations against him. "It is a clear political vendetta and attempt to silence opponents over the issue," Das alleged.

The student wings of both the parties held rallies in Bhubaneswar and Kalahandi. Activists of DSO and other student organisations held demonstrations near assembly condemning the frequent question paper leaks in the state.

PTI