Sangma, Naveen playing tribal card: Congress

Bhubaneswar: Accusing Presidential candidate P A Sangma and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of violating the Constitution by playing tribal and religion card, Odisha Congress today asked them to refrain from "such method to influence voters".

"Unfortunately, Sangma and his proposer Patnaik are trying to influence voters by projecting him as a tribal and Christian candidate in violation of the Constitution, law and tradition," chief spokesman of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Narsingh Mishra told reporters here.

The Constitution clearly says that voters cannot be influenced on the basis of caste, creed and religion, he said cautioning anyone trying to do so would be disqualified. "Not only the candidate but his supporters also trying to influence voters on these grounds are liable to be punished," he said.

"We condemn this attitude of the candidate, his proposers and supporters for using tribal and religion cards. We want them to refrain from such act," he said. Apart from the Constitution, the President and Vice President Election Act, 1952 also provides that election for these posts can be nullified if candidates resort to undue practice to influence voters, Mishra said.

Mishra said that an attempt was also being made to divide political parties on lines of caste, creed and religion and weaken democracy to get votes. Lashing out at Naveen Patnaik for seeking votes for Sangma using his tribal status, the Congress leader said if the chief minister has so much respect and love for tribals he should make a tribal the President of his BJD party.

None of the five Vice-Presidents and ten General Secretaries of ruling BJD is a tribal which shows Naveen`s lack of concern for tribals, he said, adding "one who does not have love and respect for tribals in his party and state should not use their name for votes." He said Sangma did not visit tribal-dominated Kandhamal area when it was burning amid largescale violence in 2008.