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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: While the absence and kidnapping of political leaders is not new in politics, the dramatic disappearance, alleged kidnapping and surprised reappearance of nine Zilla Parishad (ZP) members of Bargarh seem to have added a new act to the dramatic hide and seek game between BJP and BJD over grabbing the ZP chairperson post.

The issue has heated up the political atmosphere in the State with Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of trying to divide their party by luring their nine ZP members.

On Saturday night, Balaram Bhoi and Manoranjan Bhue-husbands of two ZP members- Parbati Bhoi and Sushma Bhue respectively-lodged complaint with the district superintendent of police (SP) alleging that their wives had gone missing. They alleged that the two ZP members had been kept in a secret location following the direction of BJD leader and minister Sushant Singh.

However, the two women ZP members reappeared in the State capital on Sunday, much to the surprise of everyone. They were accompanied by seven other ZP members. Interestingly, all of them claimed that they came to Bhubaneswar on their own.

“We have come to Bhubaneswar 10 days back for a tour and to visit the secretariat to raise various issues pertaining to our region. However, the BJP is alleging that we have been kidnapped. I have been in contact with my husband for the last 10 days,” said Sushma Bhue.

The nine Bargarh ZP members claimed that they had snapped ties with the saffron party before the 2019 general elections and joined hands with the ruling party for the development of their region.

“We quit the BJP and joined the BJD on March 28. The BJP is spreading lies; no one has abducted us,” the ZP members told at a press conference in Bhubaneswar today.

On the other hand, smelling conspiracy behind the decision of the ZP members to embrace the conch party, the BJP has alleged involvement of minister Sushant Singh.

“A conspiracy has been hatched from the Naveen Niwas (official residence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik) to divide the BJP,” said senior BJP leader Pradip Purohit.

Notably, the BJP had won 25 of the total ZP 34 seats in the three-tier panchayat polls in 2017 effectively clinching the chairperson post. However, the BJP had suspended one of the ZP members, Sanjukta Majhi from the party for allegedly involving in anti-party activities. Now, Sanjukta is part of the nine ZP members claiming to have joined the BJD on March 31, 2019.

While the ZP members are reportedly mulling to bring a no-confidence motion against the sitting chairperson of the Zilla Parishad, on the other hand, the BJP is planning to move the Election Commission against the nine ZP members.

“The Zilla Parishad members had won on BJP tickets; and hence, it is now a fit case for the anti-defection law to apply. We will move the State Election Commission over the matter soon,” BJP's Pradip Purohit said.

However, comments over the matter could not be obtained from minister Sushant Singh or any other BJD leaders.

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