Panchayat polls: Cong lodges FIR against Kendrapara MLA, Pattamundai BDO

Kendrapara: The Congress today lodged an FIR against the Kendrapara MLA and the Pattamundai BDO alleging that they hatched a “conspiracy” to deprive two Dalit women from contesting the upcoming panchayat polls in the State.

“Democracy is being butchered in Kendrapara. The election officers in charge of conducting free-and-fair polls have formed an unholy alliance with the BJD to ensure the victory of candidates who owe their allegiance to the ruling party,” alleged senior Congress leader Ganeswar Behera.

He claimed that Gayatri Sethy and Pramila Mallik, who had filed nominations from Penthapala panchayat samity in Pattamundai block, were declared to have withdrawn from the contest, adding that the two Dalit women never applied for withdrawal.

Behera claimed that there was a “deep conspiracy” as Babita Tarai, spouse of BJD MLA Kishore Tarai, was in the fray from Penthapala and with both of her rivals not being in the contest anymore, she was poised to be declared won unopposed.

“As Mallik and Sethy never submitted their withdrawal papers, how could they be shown to have withdrawn from the polls?” he questioned.

The Congress leader said as per sub section-15 of Rule-11 of Gram Panchayat Rules 1991, “a validly nominated candidate contesting for the member of panchayat samity may withdraw his or her candidature by presenting a written application in form no. 10 to the election officer”.

However, Mallik and Sethy never did so, Behera claimed and alleged that the BDO might have “forged” the specimen signatures of both the contestants.

“We have taken up the matter with the Collector and a complaint has been lodged with the State Election Commission.

The Congress will stage an indefinite agitation in front of the block office if both the contestants are not declared valid to contest the polls,” he said.

When asked about the allegations, Kendrapara Collector Muralidhar Mallik said, “The complaint lodged by Congress leader Behera is being looked into. The administration is intent on conducting the three-tier panchayat polls in a free-and-fair manner.”