9 Keonjhar BJD councillors urge SEC not to disqualify them

Bhubaneswar: The nine Biju Janata Dal (BJD) councillors of Keonjhargarh Municipality, who had cast their vote against the chairperson during the no-trust motion on December 28 last year, on Monday urged the State Election Commission (SEC) not to disqualify them as councillors under the anti-defection law as per the amendment to Section 17 of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950 (Odisha Municipal Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2015.

Reports said the nine BJD councillors—Sushree Sangeeta Nanda, Dillip Kumar Behera, Swarnalata Sahu, Prabhati Patnaik, Sabita Sethi, Kumudini Nayak, Satrughna Nayak, Sunil Kumar Nayak and Kuna Naik — met SEC RN Senapati at his office here and submitted a letter of complaint in this regard.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, Dillip Behera said they apprised the SEC of the entire incident and submitted a memorandum justifying their stand against the decision taken by the ruling BJD to disqualify them as councillors.

“As per the said amended provisions of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950, disqualification is not applicable in our instant case as we, the representing group having not less than two-thirds of BJD members, had moved a no-confidence motion against the chairperson of Keonjhargarh Municipality who belongs to the BJD. We had moved the no-confidence motion before the amended provision came into force with effect from December 19 last year,” he said.

Behera further said disgusted with the activities of the chairperson Meena Majhi, the nine councillors, including him, had already resigned from the primary membership of the BJD in January last year and had conveyed their decision to the party supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik in a letter.

“We had also repeatedly opposed her activities on September 24 and December 9 in 2015. Finally, we had moved the collector and the magistrate of Keonjhar with a no-confidence motion on November 12. The latter fixed the date of voting to December 28 in which the chairperson was defeated,” Behera pointed out.

“The SEC accepted our letter and assured us of taking appropriate steps”, said councillor Sangeeta Nanda.

Asked about the incident, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said there are a number of statutory issues relating to the case.

“They (the councillors) claim that they have resigned from the BJD. Now the question is when the resigned from the party. The fact is that they had not informed the Returning Officer (RO) when they had moved the no-confidence motion. The SEC and the RO will examine these legal aspects,”

Dubbing the statements of these nine councillors that they have resigned from the BJD as a blatant lie, Deb said while they are talking of their resignation from the party, they have admitted to moving no-confidence motion.

“As they had not informed the RO, they do not belong to any party while moving the no-confidence motion. They did not inform BJD about their resignation even when the party issued a whip to them or after the no-confidence motion. Why they are now talking about their resignation? The party is now examining this issue after which it would urge the SEC to take action against these nine councillors. The decision of the Commission would be final,” he pointed out.

It may be mentioned that chairperson of Kendujhargarh Municipality Meena Majhi had lost in the no-trust motion after 15 councillors voted against her on December 28.

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