SEC seeks report on ‘forged’ nomination withdrawal

Bhubaneswar/Kendrapara: A day after the Congress lodged FIR against Kendrapara MLA Kishore Tarai and the Pattamundai BDO alleging both hatched a conspiracy to ensure unopposed win of the legislator’s wife as Penthapala samiti member, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday asked Kendrapara Collector to submit a report on the issue.

“The Collector and poll observer have been asked to furnish a report on the allegation of forged withdrawal of nomination. Action will be taken after analysing the report “, said Rabindranath Sahu, Commission secretary.

Tension cropped up after Gayatri Sethy and Pramila Mallik, who had filed nominations from Penthapala panchayat samity in Pattamundai block, were declared to have withdrawn their nomination papers.

Following the matter came to fore, Congress activists had gheraoed Pattamundai block office and claimed that the two dalit candidates never applied for withdrawal.  Senior Congress leader Ganeswar Behera alleged that the election officers in charge of conducting polls have formed an unholy alliance with the BJD to ensure the victory of candidates who owe their allegiance to the ruling party.

Behera claimed that there was a “deep conspiracy” as Babita Tarai, spouse of the BJD MLA, was in the fray from Penthapala and with both of her rivals not being in the contest anymore, she was poised to be declared won unopposed.

“As Mallik and Sethy never submitted their withdrawal papers, how could they be shown to have withdrawn from the polls?” he questioned. The Congress leader said the BDO might have “forged” the specimen signature of both the contestants.

Daitari Sethy, the husband of Gayatri too claimed that he was offered bribe to withdraw his wife’s name from the contest. “Contestants of other parties offered us Rs 5 lakh and an Indira Awas house to withdraw nomination. We have reported the matter to the district Collector,” said he.

Ahead of panchayat polls, the matter has offered much needed fodder to the Opposition parties who allege that the ruling party is involved in such cases across the state and doesn’t want a free and fair poll in the State.

“This is not a single instance. A similar case has come to our notice in Nuapada where the nominee of a party, without his knowledge was declared to have withdrawn nomination,” said BJP vice president Samir Mohanty.

“Such instances from other parts of the State are also reported. We want to tell the officials involved in the polls that a free and fair election should be conducted,” said Mohammad Mokim, Cuttack city Congress president.

The ruling party has however said that it will take action against the wrongdoers.

“The State Election Commission will take decision in this regard which will be abidable by all. If there is any such evidene of manipulation in the withdrawal process, action will be taken against those involved,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said.