Cassian Baliarsingh

A day after a BJP delegation met Chief Electoral Officer of the state, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and party spokesperson Sambit Patra Wednesday met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and accused the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of distributing money to voters under the guise of SHG groups ahead of Dhamnagar bypoll.

Pradhan and Patra uged the CEC to take action against those involved in the money distribution.

Later, speaking to media, Pradhan said, “The Bhadrak administration under the leadership of the District Collector is hand in glove with the ruling party. They are helping the government in breaching the model code of conduct.”

“Earlier, we had alerted the CEO about the money distribution. Today, the CEO held a press meet and said that a forensic probe was launched in the incident. This means no action will be taken until the forensic report comes out. Moreover, the CEO himself is the secretary of the panchayatiraj department. So, I doubt his intentions. This is a conflict of interest. So, we took the matter to the Election Commission (EC),” Pradhan added.

"We hope BJD will refrain from illegal practices and help conduct a free fair election at Dhamnagar," he added.

A few days back, a BJD party worker had announced Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik would give Rs 1 crore each to every panchayat that votes for his party. He had made the statement amidst the presence of Minister Pritiranjan Ghadei, Parliamentarian Sulata Deo and Vice President of Zilla Parishad Tunibala Biswal.

Earlier, BJP general secretary Lekhashree Samantasinghar had met Chief Electoral Officer and submitted a written memorandum demanding the immediate arrest of those involved in cash distribution at Dhamnagar Assembly constituency.