Pradeep Pattanayak

The political heat has gone up several notches in the bypoll-bound Jharsuguda Assembly constituency as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), have locked horns, accusing each other of violating the model code of conduct. 

The BJP alleged that the conch party is implementing the Padampur model in the Jharsuguda bypoll. Like packages were announced for Meher Samaj and Kulata Samaj during Padampur by-election, the government has announced Rs 3 crore and half an acre of land for the construction of Agria Bhawan in Bhubaneswar. The saffron party sees the announcement by the BJD-led govt as a step to woo Agria voters as they constitute 18 percent of the total voters of the Jharsuguda Assembly constituency. 

Similarly, the government has announced assistance of Rs 111 crore for the kendu leaf pluckers. Though the government has said the beneficiaries in Jharsuguda will receive the benefits after the bypoll due to the model code of conduct being in force, the BJP alleged it would indirectly influence the pluckers of the bypoll-bound district. 

The BJP also alleged that despite being government job holders, community resource persons are campaigning and distributing money in Zillapali Panchayat under Kolabira block. The party also complained that Anganwadi workers are campaigning for BJD candidate Dipali Das. 

“The State government has announced land and Rs 3 crore. The government’s announcement is undemocratic and illegal. It is a violation of the model code of conduct.  The Election Commission should intervene immediately. Odisha’s Chief Minister and the government have been violating laws,” said BJP MP Pratap Sarangi. 

Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said, “The government has announced Rs 144 crore assistance for kendu leaf pluckers. They could have announced this earlier. But the Biju Janata Dal has been violating the model code of conduct to win elections and it is illegal.” 

On the other hand, the BJD dismissed the allegations of violation of the model code of conduct and accused BJP candidate Tankadhar Tripathy of campaigning and conducting meetings even after 10 pm. 

“When the State government takes up any State-level problem, and if any announcement is made, it is made for the entire State. The assistance money announced for kendu leave pluckers is in no way a violation of the model code of conduct. If they feel otherwise, they have the right to go to the Election Commission,” said BJD Vice President, Prasanna Acharya. 

When contacted, Chief Electoral Officer, Nikunja Bihari Dhal said, “We have received complaints regarding the violation of the model code of conduct from two parties. The district Collector has also received them. An inquiry has already been done. Appropriate action has been taken.”

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