Panchayat elections: Poll code goes for a toss in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: With the three-tier panchayat polls in Odisha less than a week to go, it is observed that the model code of conduct for the election is being violated blatantly by all the political parties including ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

During a campaign on Tuesday, while former Health minister and Mahakalpada legislator Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak was seen approaching the voters to cast their votes in favour of his ‘party-backed’ candidate, in many cases, posters of candidates ostensibly supported by Congress and BJP, bear either names or photos of their respective parties.

In a video footage, which is in possession of OTV, the Mahakalpada legislator was seen requesting the voters to exercise their franchise in favour of a sarpanch candidate who is ‘supported’ by BJD and in fray with candidates from other political parties.

“…I have selected the candidate… Now it’s time to cooperate him,” Nayak is heard talking to the voters.

Officials said, both cases violate model code of conduct which is in effect since the panchayat poll dates are declared.

“In the model code of conduct which we have prescribed it is mentioned that no candidate can take the names of any political parties during the campaign. They can’t even mention anywhere in the poster or banner the names of any political parties. If such cases come to the notice of the State Election Commission (SEC), the officers deputed in district level will take action against the wrongdoers,” said Rabindranath Sahu, secretary, SEC.

Meanwhile when contacted, Nayak refused to comment on the incident.

On the violation of poll code by contestants, Congress said that the election watchdog should take strict action against the people or parties involved in it.

“In many cases we have seen that the SEC fails to take action even if we submit evidence of the breach of law. Recently we had informed the poll observers about such a case involving BJD leader Rabi Narayan Nanda. But nobody took action,” Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said.

The saffron party which has intensified its poll campaigning in all parts of the State to corner the ruling BJD, said that it has not violated the poll code.

“I don’t think candidates have written anywhere or in their posters as ‘BJP-supported’. But if the candidates have put up photos of either party leaders of State or national level, it’s not violation of poll code,” BJP general secretary Bhrugu Buxipatra said.