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State govt to lodge FIR in alleged horse-trading

Bhubaneswar: The controversy over alleged horse-trading during last year`s Rajya Sabha elections took a new turn today with state government announcing its plan to register a case with police.

The state government said it would lodge an FIR in accordance with a directive from the Election Commission of India.

The government had referred the matter to the Election Commission in the wake of mounting pressure from opposition parties which accused the ruling BJD and two of its ministers of indulging in horse-trading during the polls.

"We have received a directive from the Election Commission. Accordingly, the state government will lodge an FIR at police station and submit a CD and a letter as material evidence," chief secretary B K Patnaik told reporters.

Earlier, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said he was not aware about EC`s direction to the state government. "If the chief secretary has received such a letter, I am sure he will take appropriate steps in this regard," he said.

Former union minister Braja Kishore Tripathy had written a letter to the EC alleging horse-trading during last year`s Rajya Sabha polls. "Though the ruling BJD did not have adequate number to capture three vacant seats, its candidates won all," Tripathy pointed out.

The issue came to the lime light a year after the Rajya Sabha polls when a local television channel aired an audio cassette with recorded conversation between a minister and a middle man on the RS elections.

The cassette named two ministers and a Congress MLA who allegedly colluded to manipulate polls.

Meanwhile, the ministers have denied allegations against them and the opposition Congress suspended the MLA from the party. The state unit of BJP had also suspended one of its MLAs for abstaining from the polls defying party whip.

BJD`s third candidate won the polls as one MLA each from Congress and BJP abstained. Rejection of one vote given by a Congress MLA, also helped the BJD candidate to win.

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