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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bizarre scenes were noticed at the Ganjam Sub-Collector’s office in Berhampur on Monday as senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were seen guarding the office gate to ensure that none of their Corporator candidates withdrew nomination for the upcoming Urban Local Body polls.

Guarding the gate were Bhrugu Baxipatra, vice president of State unit of BJP and other local leaders who alleged that the ruling Biju Janata Dal leaders were pressurising party candidates to withdraw their nomination.

“At least four Corporator candidates of the BJP have been coerced into withdrawing nominations. BJD supporters have been threatening the family members of our candidates with the help of police and local goons,” added Baxipatra.

Similar allegations surfaced in Buguda NAC in Ganjam where the Electoral Officer, Sangram Keshari Jena, has been accused of threatening the BJP candidates to withdraw nominations.

Gokulananda Mallick, a local BJP leader in Buguda, said, “Reshma Patra from Ward number 3 and U Chandana Patra from Ward number 9 have been threatened indirectly by the Tehsildar.”

However, Jena refuted the allegations.

Reacting to the allegations, BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra said, “if their allegations are true, they should bring those to the notice of the authorities. There are proper forums for this. They should not just make loose allegations for the sake of it.”

“Gone are the days when people were used to force others to do things without their consent. But in today’s world, it is not possible. The candidates who have withdrawn their nominations might have done spontaneously. They even might be dissatisfied with the BJP, so a little clarification will be enough to change their mind,” Das said.

Meanwhile, the rebels in the BJD are reportedly set to give the ruling party a tough time in the elections. Though the senior leaders are leaving no stones unturned to pacify such candidates into withdrawing their nominations, there are still some who would stand independently.

Prashant Kumar Swain, a BJD Corporator ticket aspirant from Ward – 26 in the BMC, was seen weeping outside the Chief Minister’s grievance cell after senior leaders asked him to withdraw his nomination.

However, BJD MLA Sushant Routray expressed his hope to make it right for all the rebels in the party.

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