Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a case of blatant disregard to the election Model Code of Conduct (MCC), cash is allegedly being distributed in the open to lure woman voters in the Dhamnagar by-election campaign.

As per report, almost every woman SHG in the Dhamnagar Assembly Constituency is getting Rs 4000 each to vote for the BJD.

So much so that, some women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have alleged that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is distributing money to only its supporters in the SHGs and not to all.

Alleging discrimination by the BJD, an SHG member from Dahipur Panchayat said, “Some people came by to distribute money and said only the women going to vote for BJD can stay here and others should leave. They said, the money is for BJD supporters and not for all.”

Another SHG member from the Panchayat said, “The people distributing money in our village never called us. They know we won’t vote for the BJD. So they didn’t give us money.”

Meanwhile scores of videos about SHGs being allegedly used by the BJD as a means to distribute money to voters, are doing rounds on social media. In a recent viral video, a woman is heard saying, “Some people gave us money in an envelope and said that Naveen babu has given this money for you to spend. When we asked why, they replied, to cast your valuable votes to the BJD candidate.”

Similarly, in another viral video, a BJD-supported Sarpanch was caught red-handed distributing money to voters in the Constituency. The irate people not only could be seen detaining the Sarpanch, but they also gheraoed the police demanding action against the Sarpanch.

Meanwhile, a political slugfest has already taken centre stage. Following the cash-for-vote allegations, the BJP staged a dharna at the SP office of Bhadrak, while another delegation of the saffron party met the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) at Bhubaneswar to complaint that the BJD is distributing money in the Constituency and the police is helping the party members.

BJP Odisha Chief, Sameer Mohanty said, “The police and administration are working in a mission mode to make the BJD candidate win in the by-election.”

However, refuting the allegations, BJD MLA, Sanjeev Mallik said, “There is a particular political party which has grown envious of our popularity. The party has roped in hooligans and miscreants to malign BJD’s reputation in this election.”

viral videos showing the distribution of money are sponsored by the BJP,” Mallik claimed.

Congress on the other hand blamed both the BJP and BJD for misusing government agencies to get votes. Speaking to reporters, Congress Spokesperson, Nishikant Mishra said, “While the BJP is misusing the Central agencies to put pressure on the voters, the BJD is misusing police and district administration to lure voters in their favour.”

“In this way, both the parties are violating the Model Code of Conduct,” Mishra said.