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Pradeep Pattanayak

‘Note for Vote’ is alleged to be the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s last-ditch-attempt to garner votes as several videos of either party candidates or leaders distributing currency notes among electors have recently surfaced, with some doing the rounds on social media. 

In the latest such incident, tension flared up at Atoper Behera Sahi under Keonjhar Municipality when BJP activists came under attack allegedly by the BJD supporters after the former opposed distribution of money among the voters by the latter. It was alleged that the BJD activists were found distributing Rs2,000 per voter. Putting up a strong opposition to goings on, BJP MLA Mohan Charan Majhi and his supporters even gheraoed the Town police station. 

In a similar incident, it was alleged that Runu Jena, BJD’s corporator candidate from Ward no-63 under the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), had distributed money in her Ward. Drawing attention of the Odisha State Election Commission (OSEC) over the unfair means used by the ruling party, a delegation of its arch rival, the Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP), had met the Commissioner.   

In Sunabeda, a video is doing the rounds on social media which shows none other than Koraput’s BJD MLA Raghuram Padal distributing money for the municipal chairman candidate. 

Similar allegation has emerged from Remuna in Balasore district. It is alleged that BJD’s councillor candidate Laxmikant Das, who is contesting from Ward no-5 of Remuna NAC, had distributed money among the voters. 

In a similar incident recently reported from TB Hospital Sahi under Ward no-20 of Baripada municipality, a BJD leader was allegedly seen distributing currency notes of Rs 500 denomination among the voters. This had given rise to tension in the locality when some residents opposed. Similar incident of cash distribution was also reported from Ward no-17 under the same municipality. 

Taking to her Twitter handle, Bhubaneswar MP (BJP) Aparajita Sarangi retweeted a similar video and wrote, “How pathetic this is! I wonder if the cost price of votes vary from place to place. How insecure BJD is? Can’t it win without distributing money? They ought to have self-confidence enough.” 

In a counter tweet, the BJD’s spokesperson Sulata Deo said, “Aparajita Saranagi ji, don’t insult 4.5 crore Odias with your wild allegations. Odias are ethical, self respecting & dignified. Seems you have conceded defeat in Bhubaneswar Mayor election & therefore creating an excuse to save face before your national leadership by tagging them.”

Taking a dig at the ruling party, BJP leader Surath Biswal said, “This election, the BJD has thrown the code of conduct, police and district administrations to the wind and is distributing money openly.”

Lashing out at the Conch party for allegedly distributing money for votes, Senior Congress leader and Jatni MLA Suresh Routray said, “I have never seen in my life time the way votes are being purchased these days. Yesterday I visited eight Wards in Bhubaneswar and was surprised to know that Rs3,000/5,000 per vote has been distributed. The same thing is happening in Jatni too.”

Terming the allegations of the Opposition parties as a common practice during election time, BJD MP Munna Khan said, “It is a matter of voters’ choice and nothing else.”

Meanwhile, the OSEC has taken the money distribution allegations seriously. “The concerned district and police administrations have been directed to probe the money distribution allegations and take action accordingly,” said State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi.

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