Cassian Baliarsingh

With less than 24 hours to go for the crucial Padampur bypoll, tension ran high at Sareikela village under Paikamal block in Bargarh district after two BJD workers were allegedly caught on Sunday while distributing money to woo voters ahead of the much-awaited bypoll.

Irate villagers detained two workers while three others managed to escape. The two failed to give satisfactory answers when locals confronted them regarding the reason of their visit to the village. Later, the villagers detained them and informed police in connection with the incident.

On being informed, a team of police personnel rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the villagers.

According to sources, five BJD workers arrived at the village by a car and were allegedly distributing money to a few villagers. However, angry villagers detained two of them while three others managed to escape.

When contacted, Bargarh SP said that necessary action would be taken against them as per law if the allegations are found to be true. However, the local police officials are yet to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the saffron party met Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) accusing BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha’s brother of wooing electorates with cash distribution. They also alleged that the ruling party is resorting to hooliganism when they are being stopped from engaging in such illegal activities.

“BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha’s brother Bhojaraj Singh Bariha has been caught by Sareikela villagers under Jagdalpur area while distributing money. Though police were present at the spot, Bhojaraj managed to escape from the spot,” alleged State BJP General Secretary Lekhashree Samantsinghar.

“In another such instance, Chitakhal villagers under Barikel Panchayat have returned the money distributed by BJD to their supported ward member. Voters in Kansada panchayat under Paikmal block have returned the money distributed by BJD after conducting a meeting. These are strong evidences to prove that BJD has distributed money to win the by-election,” said Samantasinghar.

BJD has also brought counter allegation against members of the saffron party. “BJP can stoop down to any level. The party is distributing cheque for vote-buying which is not acceptable at all,” said BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty.

Taking potshots at BJP and BJD, former PCC president Jayadev Jena said, “Both BJD and BJP are trying to buy votes by distributing money. But, it will have a negative impact on the voters and they will vote as per their conscience.” 

Notably, the voting for the Padampur bypoll will start from 7 am and continue till 4 pm tomorrow. A total of 2, 57,474 voters (1,29,497 male and 1,27,565 female voters) will exercise their franchise at 319 booths. Of them, six are pink booths and 15 are model booths.

Apart from these, 74 booths fall in the Maoist-hit areas and 78 have been marked as sensitive ones. To maintain law and order situation during the polling, nine companies of Central forces and 41 platoons of forces have been deployed.