Odisha Polls End On A Dissenting Note

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Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD on Monday filed half-a-dozen petitions against BJP with Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar here, as the fourth and final phase of the elections were held in the State.

In the petitions, the party has alleged violation of the model code of conduct by BJP leader Kendrapara MP candidate Baijayant Panda and news channel OTV for allegedly trying to influence the voters through false news.

Baijayant is facing one of the toughest challenges of retaining the Kendrapara seat. He is pitted against BJD’s Anubhav Mohanty.

BJP dubbed the charges as BJD’s signs of nervousness about its winning prospects.

In one of the petitions to the CEO on Monday, the BJD accused regional news channel OTV (owned by Baijayant Panda’s family) for allegedly spreading false news to defame the ruling party.

In another letter, the party alleged that Baijayant had given bytes (political reactions) to OTV during the silent period, which was a violation of the model code of conduct.

The petition said that the CEO has failed to initiate action against Baijayant despite BJD bringing other charges against him earlier. It hoped the CEO would act this time around.

On the eve of the elections on Sunday, the BJD had filed a petition with the CEO, demanding immediate action against Jyoti Ghosh, election agent and a close associate of Baijayant and OTV for allegedly spreading false news against its MP candidate, Anubhav Mohanty with an intention to defame him.

On Saturday as well, BJD wrote to the CEO alleging “distribution of cash among voters” by four associates of Baijayant.

The BJP, in turn, alleged that several BJD leaders hailing from outside Kendrapara constituency were camping and distributing illicit cash to win over the voters. The poll code stipulates that those who are not voters should leave the constituency 48 hours before polling but several BJD ministers, MLAs and youth activists are contravening the provisions, it said and demanded that the CEO oust them from the constituency.

Among the fresh petitions filed by BJD on Monday, the party accused BJP workers of booth capturing in the Bari Assembly constituency under the Jajpur Lok Sabha seat.

Another petition also claimed that an OTV news anchor was illegally inducing voters of the Kendrapara area to cast their votes for Baijayant.

In yet another petition, it accused BJP of sending voice calls for election campaigning despite the ban during the silent period being in force.

Lastly, it brought to the notice of the CEO a tweet of senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan where he is allegedly soliciting votes for BJP.

Countering BJD’s charges, State BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty told mediapersons that the petitions are signs of BJD’s desperation to hold on to power.

“Apprehensive of defeat in the fourth phase of polling, BJD has turned violent and furious, especially in the Kendrapada parliamentary constituency. The BJD candidates and their supporters are attacking the BJP workers there”.

He also alleged that a similar incident was witnessed in Dharmashala, Bari and Binjharpur assembly constituencies under the Jajpur parliamentary constituency.

“A murderous attack was made on the BJP workers and the polling agents have been shunted out of the booths. In Moroda Assembly segment under Mayurbhanj parliamentary Constituency, the BJD leaders are influencing the voters inside the booths by distributing money”.

He also alleged that thousands of government servants engaged in the polling process have been deprived of postal ballot. “Their fault is that they cast their vote for the Lotus symbol, which was caught on CCTV camera. We have apprised the CEO and demanded that those employees should be allowed their voting right within the polling process today,” the BJP leader added.

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