Pradeep Pattanayak

The outcome of elections for Sarpanch and Samiti member posts of Chandpur Panchayat under Rangeilunda Block in Ganjam district was pre-determined? 

If a Zilla Parishad candidate of the same locality is to be believed, the two aspirants in the fray had entered into pre-election deal with a Samiti member aspirant to win the posts uncontested. She alleged that as much as Rs 10 lakh had changed hands for the fixed match.
The fresh allegation of 'fixed match' bares open the murky  underbelly of the rural elections in the State which has been bloodied by an unabated spate of violence, despite the tall assurances given by the police administration of ensuring full proof security during the crucial democratic process.

C. Rashmita Patra and Priyanka Dalai have been elected uncontested as the Sarpanch and Samiti member, respectively. A Zilla Parishad candidate Kajal Patra alleged that a deal of Rs10 lakh had been struck to ensure none would contest against or oppose them (Patra and Dalai). 

Prashant Behera of Sunadeipur village had intended to contest for Samiti member post from Chandpur Panchayat. Balyaram Dalai, husband of Samiti member Priyanka Dalai, allegedly managed to persuade Behera to stay away from the poll arena. And for this, the former had given an undated cheque of Rs10 lakh to the latter, it has been alleged.

"Sarpanch C. Rashmita Patra’s father-in-law is also a part of this shoddy deal," alleged Kajal.  

Balyaram and Prashant had also signed an agreement on a stamp paper. The deal was finalised on January 20. 

OTV has accessed to the agreement paper. 

When asked, Prashant admitted that Balyaram had given him an undated cheque of Rs10lakh not to contest in the election, saying he had to accept as it was decided by the villagers.

A meeting was convened at Sunadeipur where a decision was taken that no one would contest with C. Rashmita and Priyanka. In turn, the village would receive Rs10lakh which would be utilised for laying up the village road.  The amount would be returned to Balyaram after receiving fund from the government. 

“What we have done is for the betterment of the village. To get a road to our village, we decided to elect them unopposed,” said Sagar Sahu, a villager. 

Kajal Patra demanded that the elections to the two posts should be held afresh. “It amounts to murder of democracy. I want fresh elections be held for these two posts by declaring the recently held ones invalid,” Kajal observed. 

On the other hand, Balyaram Dalai refuted the allegations. “The cheque and the agreement are fake. Since Prashant has been working as a sub-contractor using my name, he has with him five to six such cheques of mine . It is a conspiracy to malign me,” claimed Dalai. 

Berhampur Sub-Collector V  Keerthi Vasan said a written complaint has been made to the State Election Commission and action would be taken after a probe.

Sarpanch C Rashmita Patra’s reaction is yet to be received.    

Notably, similar reports about auction of Sarpanch post was received  from Bileisarda Panchayat of Bolangir district in January.