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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

High drama unfolded during the Chhatrapur Block Chairman election in Ganjam district on Saturday when two separate rival groups of BJD workers got into an ugly fight with each other.

As per reports, the supporters of sitting MLA Subas Behera and former MLA Priyanshu Pradhan were in loggerheads. As many as 12 Samiti members were allegedly locked up by police in a hotel at Barakul in Balugaon ahead of the chairman election.

The internal feud in the ruling party in the State was revealed after a video of the Samiti members crying for help from the balcony of the hotel went viral. Eventually, the Samiti members were released and with their support Kiran Kumari Das, who is from the incumbent MLA’s opposition camp, got elected as the Chairman of Chhatrapur Block.

As per the allegations made by the Samiti members, police had locked up and detained them with a view to bar them from voting in the election. The Samiti members also threatened to kill themselves if not released immediately.

“While we were detained in the hotel, the police took our mobile phones and didn’t allow us to go outside. They also harassed us on the instruction of Behera,” said Narendrapur Samiti member Sonali Senapati following her release.

She further alleged that the police barged into their rooms at midnight and took away their phones.

Another Samiti member alleged that the SP and other police personnel had threatened them.

However, Chhatrapur SDPO Goutam Kishan refuted the allegations by the Samiti members.

“The police are there for security arrangements. However, false reports surfaced in the media that they were detained. We are investigating the allegation pertaining to the Samiti members’ mobile phone seizure,” said Kishan.

Earlier, a high drama was witnessed during the Chhatrapur Block chairperson election on March 12 when, ahead of the poll, it was claimed that six Samiti members were infected with Covid-19 and they had been shifted to some unknown location by the local administration.

Following this, the Block chairperson election was cancelled. However, after massive protests in the region, the chairperson election was rescheduled to be held on April 2.

Eventually, better sense prevailed and the detained Samiti members were released. With the support of 12 Samiti members from the discontended BJD group, Kiran was elected as the Chairman amid chaos.

As per observers, the incident has revealed internal squabbling in BJD.

On the other hand, Ganjam district BJD President Ramesh Chandra Chau Patnaik said that there is no difference of opinion between both the MLAs and eventually BJD has won the election.

“I don’t think there is an internal fight between different groups of BJD. People want to vote in favour of BJD and the former MLA should understand it. We request him to cooperate and maintain discipline within the party,” said Patnaik.

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