State

BJP urges thorough probe into Kandhamal by-poll by EC

Bhubaneswar, Oct 21: Alleging vote rigging, misuse of official machinery and pumping of money by ruling BJD in Odisha to win Kandhamal Lok Sabha by-election, BJP urged the Election Commission to conduct a thorough probe and make a case study of the by-poll.

"We want the EC to conduct a thorough probe and a case study of the by-poll held in Kandhamal where largescale rigging was committed with gross misuse of official machinery and flow of money," senior BJP leader and party's Odisha in- charge Arun Singh told reporters here.

Alleging blatant violation of model code of conduct by BJD during electioneering, Singh alleged that virtually the entire council of ministers was camping in Kandhamal and working for BJD's electoral gain by using government machinery.

Even after the campaign was over, some ministers and senior BJD leaders were present in the constituency, he alleged.

The BJP leader further claimed that BJD used the administrative machinery to pressurise Self Help Groups (SHGs) who in turn influenced the people to vote for its candidate Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh.

Child Development Project Officers (CDPOs) were asking SHGs to back BJD by threatening that their their grant would be held if votes were not mobilised for the ruling party, Singh alleged.

He said BJP would lodge a complaint with the EC seeking proper action for violation of model code of conduct and electoral malpractice in Kandhamal.

Singh further alleged that central funds given to Odisha for different schemes were being grossly misused and offered as loans through an organised network of money lenders and mafia in rural areas.

A three-member committee would be formed by the state BJP to probe the matter and ascertain facts relating to this alleged racket, he said.

Despite use of money and government machinery by the ruling party, BJP's vote share increased by around 11 per cent to touch 23 per cent as compared to April Lok Sabha polls in Kandhamal, Singh said adding as Congress was getting decimated BJP was fast emerging as an alternative to BJD in Odisha to capture power in 2019.

BJD Spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb, however, refuted the allegations levelled by Singh terming them as baseless and false.

PTI 

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