Odisha Minister Pratap Jena ‘offers bribe’ to voters

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena today courted controversy by openly announcing cash rewards to people for voting his party, BJD to power.

Jena, while addressing a gathering during a party workers meeting in Mala of Salepur area today, was heard saying that his party would offer Rs 35 lakh cash to the panchayat and Rs 15 lakh for the booth which would give maximum votes to local BJD candidate Prasant Behera.

OTV has received an audio clip, in which Jena is also heard saying “The money will be immediately given to the chosen panchayat and booth from the MLA fund after the election,” Jena said.

Moreover, in the audio clip, Jena cautioned the mediapersons assembled at the meeting venue to switch-off their cameras and phones.

Despite repeated attempts, comments from the minister in connection with the matter could not be received.

Constitution expert Amareshwar Mishra said, “If the audio of the incident is found to be authentic, the minister’s comments will be unacceptable for the Election Commission (EC) which recently enforced the Model Code of Conduct for upcoming elections.

Asked about the possibility of any legal action by the Election Commission, Mishra said the comments by the minister in front of the public and that too at such a crucial time just before the polls are a blatant violation of poll code.

“But action is subjected to probe on the incident and other material evidences like video recordings of the public meeting,” he said