Poll code violation: Mines dept pleads ignorance

Bhubaneswar: Clarifying its stand over the alleged violation of model code of conduct, the Steel and Mines department on Tuesday apprised the State Election Commission (SEC) that no fax was sent from the office to Angul district Collector on August 21.
 
In a letter the department also stated that though there were allegations about an official fax message bearing a list of BJD candidates contesting urban local body elections, the minister’s office was “unknown” about the matter.
 
Meanwhile the SEC, in its reply has asked the department to lodge a police complaint to trace the suspects behind the whole process and submit an action taken report with the commission within two days.
 
Sources said, a list of BJD’s probable candidates for Angul municipality was sent to the collector’s office on August 21 from the office of Steel and Mines minister Rajnikant Singh who is an MLA from the district. The SEC, after the matter came to light recommended the State government for action against Angul collector Arvind Agrawal following which he was transferred. The personal assistant of the collector was also suspended over the matter, they added.
 
The Opposition Congress and BJP have appealed the SEC for similar action against the minister for allegedly misusing his official power. The Congress said while the government shunted the collector, why it was hesitating to act against the minister, who is the ‘real offender’.
 
“It’s surprising that the Collectors' office was used for BJD’s party matter when the model code of conduct is in force. It is a clear case of misusing official machinery for elections and we demand disciplinary action against the minister as per law for violating code of conduct,” OPCC president Jaydev Jena had said on Monday.
 
On the other hand, Singh has pleaded ignorance about the fax message.
 
“There is no involvement of the minister in this case and I will stand by my earlier statement that the matter has taken place without the knowledge of the minister,” Singh had said.