Violence in Odisha Polls 2019 continues unabated

Bhubaneswar: From murder to brutal attacks on political leaders and workers, Odisha witnessed several poll-related violence in the run-up to the first and second phase elections which has now emerged as a major concern.

As most of the attacks were on BJP leaders and its workers, point of suspicion is now on ruling-BJD. The spate in pre and post violence has led to a war of words between major political parties in Odisha ahead of polling in two more phases.

According to sources, in last four weeks, as many as five persons allegedly lost their lives in poll violence in separate parts of the State.

While former MLA candidate of Ghasipura Assembly segment was murdered on March 26, BJP’s Khurda Mandal president Manguli Jena was shot dead on April 14. Within 72 hours of Jena’s murder, Bhanjanagar Agajola’s BJP worker Sadashiv Pradhan and BJP supporter Santosh Pati were allegedly murdered in Ganjam.

Alleging BJD’s involvement, the BJP has sought Odisha CEO’s intervention in connection with the incidents.

“We sincerely request CM Naveen to refrain from the obsession of holding on to the power at the cost of human lives,” said BJP Vice-president Samir Mohanty.

Apart from murders, incidents of brutal attacks have also made headlines in the State. In Brajarajnagar, the personal security officer of BJP MLA candidate Radha Rani Panda was injured in attack by BJD workers. Panda is contesting the polls against BJD’s candidate Kishore Mohanty.

Sporadic incidents of attacks were also reported from several parts of the State. On Wednesday, some miscreants hurled bombs at the BJP ward office at Unit 8 in Bhubaneswar. Bijepur BJP candidate Sanat Gadtiya’s car was also attacked with stones. Similarly, a complaint accusing the brother and supporters of BJD minister Susant Singh attacking some BJP workers and leaders was lodged in Bhatli.

Speaking in connection with the issue, Odisha CEO Surendra Kumar said, the Election Commission is taking up cases of poll violence with State DGP and concerned district police authorities wherever and whenever they come to fore.

On the other hand, the BJD and BJP are now at loggerheads with leaders of either party blaming each other for such unrest.

Targeting CM Naveen, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “You have stooped so low that your party workers are not even hesitating from taking others lives.”

Hitting back at Pradhan, senior BJD leader Prasanna Acharya said, “Who threw shoes during CM Naveen’s meeting and who killed BJD worker during last bypolls? Those who resort to violence are now complaining about ‘goondagiri’.”