Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, including senior party leaders, were prevented by the police from campaigning for the forthcoming Panchayat elections in Gandia village in Dhenkanal district on Monday.
The incident led to a minor face-off between the workers and the police.
Odisha BJP President Sameer Mohanty , Mahila Morcha president Smruti Patnaik and Former Dhenkanal MP Rudra Narayan Pani were also present during the campaigning for the party candidate.
Police said the BJP did not have the permission for campaign from the authorities and it would have triggered clashes with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supporters who were also present in the village at that point of time for campaigning.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders accused the police of bending rules for the ruling BJD party. “They (police) stopped us at different points from the beginning of the rally. No one can stop us from campaigning as it is our Constitutional right to reach people,” said State BJP President Sameer Mohanty.
“As the BJD is in power for so long, the police might be showing extra loyalty for their local leaders,” he alleged.
However, the police claimed that the more than 300 BJP workers were present during the campaigning. However, senior party leader Rudra Narayan Pani refuted the police claims and said that they had just about 298 workers on the campaign trail.
“At least 40 police officials are required to stop 298 people. But only 4 came to stop us,” said Pani.
He went on to question the failure of the police to discharge their actual responsibility. “What are these officers doing to stop crimes in their jurisdiction when Odisha is recording 4 rape cases, 6 abduction cases every day,” he asked.
Earlier on Monday, clashes broke out between the BJD and the BJP workers during campaigning at Badhia village under Chandbali Block in Bhadrak district. As per reports, 3 persons were injured during the incident.