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Ramakanta Biswas

A purported viral audio about distribution of cash to voters in Gandhamardan mining area in Banspal block of Keonjhar district has gone viral on the social media, prompting the Opposition to target the ruling Biju Janta Dal (BJD).

The audio clip has surfaced at a time when the first phase of voting began for the three-tier Panchayat elections on Wednesday. 

The viral audio clip contains the conversation between two people regarding distribution of Rs 2,000 each to 30 families to cast their vote to a particular political party. It was stated in the conversation that the money meant for distribution came from a cooperative society which is looks after loading of minerals at Gandhamardan mining area. The cooperative society is under the control of Keonjhar district administration. 

It was suspected that the cash disbursement incident took place in ward No 3 of Kumundi panchayat of Banspal block. 
Some highly-placed sources revealed that a group of people visited each household last night and distributed cash urging the families to cast their votes to a particular symbol. 

Raising objections over the alleged cash distribution, Keonjhar Sadar MLA Mohan Majhi demanded a probe into the incident. 

“The audio clip is a proof that the BJD is buying votes in Gandhamardan area. The district administration has failed to ensure a free and fair election. It is very unfortunate. The matter should be probed,” Majhi said. 

However, the BJD district president refuted the allegations. “BJD does not believe in cash distribution and never endorse such practices. It is false allegations by the Opposition. I refute the allegations with strongest words,” Madhab Sardar, Keonjhar district BJD president said.

On the other hand, the reaction of any government official associated with the cooperative society could not be obtained.

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