Pradeep Pattanayak

As the Panchayat elections inch closer, allegations of the ruling Biju Janata Dal violating the election code of conduct are flying thick and fast. 

A six-member delegation of Odisha unit of the Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP), led by general secretary Lekhashree Samantasinghar, on Wednesday called on the State Election Commission (SEC) and levelled allegations against the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of disobeying poll code.

Hitting out at the BJD, Samantasinghar said she has apprised the SEC about shocking instances how district Collectors and other officers, who are duty bound to ensure a free and fair elections, are freely allowing conduct of political programmes and looking the other way while the ruling party is violating the model code of conduct.”

The BJP delegation also alleged that despite enforcement of poll code, hoardings of Chief Minister and the ruling BJD are still very much adorning rural pockets in gross violation of the guidelines.  
It must be mentioned here that despite just a few days into the poll code enforcement, occurence of guideline violations by the BJD leaders have been reported from various corners of the State. 
In one such incident, a video showing senior leader like Badri Narayan Patra, who is the sitting MLA of Ghasipura announcing the names of Sarpanch and Samiti member candidates for Mukundapur Patna Panchayat has now gone viral on social media platforms. 

A purported video clip of the incident has been the talk of the town. In the clip, the former Minister from from Keonjhar distict can also be seen asking the people to vote for the candidates.   
Similarly, while Sarpanch and Samiti members have been ruled to contest the elections without any party symbols, the BJD MLA’s direct involvement and announcing names of candidates is alleged to be a clear cut violation of election model code of conduct. 

In another instance, a BJD letter pad with the party's conch emblem (Sankha) and with the names of Sarpanch and Samiti members from Tirtol constituency of Jagatsinghpur district written on it has also set the social media on fire. 

The letter that has stirred up a hornet’s nest is purported to have been written by Tirtol BJD president Gangadhara Biswal to Tirtol MLA Bijay Shankar Das, informing him about the party's selected candidates.
However, both the Tirtol MLA and BJD president have termed the letter as fake. “I have not seen the letter that is said to have gone viral but I also know nothing about it,” clarified Tirtol MLA Bijay Shankar Das.   
Similarly, Tirtol BJD president Gangadhara Biswal termed the letter in question as a forged one.

In Paradip too, allegations of BJD's poll code breach have come to light after spread of pictures on social media showing local MLA Sambit Routray vouching for candidates before Returning officer during nomination filing. 

Sought for an explanation over the allegations, Routray clarified, "Candidates contesting for Sarpanch and Samiti member posts are not bound to any party but many of them claim that they owe allegiance to my party. I am only supporting candidates who I feel deem fit to win the election."