Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the polling date for the Jharsuguda by-election is inching closer, the political hostility between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is getting more intense.

Yesterday, (Wednesday), BJP leader and Sundargarh MLA, Kusum Tete’s car was allegedly stopped and attacked by some BJD workers. As per reports, eggs and stones were hurled at Tete’s vehicle during an election rally in Niktimal under Laikera block of bypoll-bound Jharsuguda Assembly constituency.

Tete said yesterday, “While I was giving my speech, BJD workers threw eggs and stones at us. They also hurled abuses. My driver has been hit with a stone. I have come to the police station to lodge a complaint in this regard. Police should provide protection to me. Otherwise, I am afraid that I will not be able to continue the campaign.”

“Everybody has rights under the Constitution to campaign during the election. Whoever has tried to stop the MLA from campaigning is an anti-social,” said Congress MLA, Santosh Singh Saluja.

Prior to that on Monday, BJP had lodged a complaint with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha alleging violent tactics adopted by the ruling BJD members to stop the saffron party from campaigning in Jharsuguda.

Even BJP’s candidate, Tankadhar Tripathy faced a similar situation with BJD supporters allegedly stopping him from campaigning in Jharsuguda.

While the BJP has been alleging attack on their members by the BJD supporters during election rallies, the ruling party turned the heat on Thursday by leveling counter-allegations against the saffron party.

BJD spokesperson, Gautam Buddha Das said, “The people of Jharsuguda are neither accepting their words nor accepting their candidate. That is why the BJP has resorted to goondaism. They are threatening our members too. We have lodged a complaint with the Election Commission and demanded to take immediate action against the BJP.”

Accusing the BJD of resorting to violence, BJP State General Secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, “Entire Odisha knows which party is behind all the violence and crimes in the State and who is providing the criminals the political shield. So I do not need to say it again.”

Odisha BJP president, Manmohan Samal said, “The BJD has gone violent and it is trying to forcefully influence the results of the election by indulging in violence. It is emanating from their frustration.”

While the BJP lodged complaints with the central election observer at Jharsuguda demanding deployment of central security forces, the BJD too has submitted a memorandum to the central observer making the bypoll fight more intense with each passing day.