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SEC seeks report over rigging allegations in Panchayat polls

 A day after Congress filed an FIR against a BJD MLA and BDO here accusing them of hatching a conspiracy to ensure victory of candidates belonging to the ruling BJD in the panchayat polls, the State Election Commission today sought a report from the district Collector on the matter.

The Collector has been asked to submit a report on the allegation of forged withdrawal of nomination and appropriate steps would be taken after the report is received, said Commission Secretary, R N Sahu.

Congress had yesterday lodged an FIR against the Kendrapara MLA and the Pattamundai BDO alleging that they hatched a conspiracy to deprive two Dalit women from contesting the upcoming panchayat polls for ensuring victory of BJD-backed candidates.

"Democracy is being butchered in Kendrapara. The election officers in charge of conducting free and fair polls have formed an unholy alliance with BJD to ensure the victory of candidates who owe their allegiance to the ruling party," senior Congress leader Ganeswar Behera alleged. He claimed Gayatri Sethy and Pramila Mallik, who had filed nominations from Penthapala panchayat samiti in Pattamundai block, were declared to have withdrawn from the contest, adding that the two women never applied for withdrawal.

Behera also claimed there was a "deep conspiracy" as Babita Tarai, spouse of BJD MLA Kishore Tarai, was in the fray from Penthapala, and with both her rivals not in the contest anymore, she was poised to be declared won unopposed.

"As Mallik and Sethy never submitted their withdrawal papers, how could they be shown to have withdrawn from the polls?" Behera questioned.

The Congress leader said as per sub section-15 of Rule-11 of Gram Panchayat Rules 1991, "a validly nominated candidate contesting for the member of panchayat samiti may withdraw his or her candidature by presenting a written application in form no 10 to the election officer".

However, Mallik and Sethy never did so, Behera claimed and alleged the BDO might have "forged" the specimen signatures of both contestants. "We have taken up the matter with the Collector and a complaint has been lodged with the SEC. When asked about the allegations, Kendrapara Collector Muralidhar Mallik said, "The complaint lodged by Congress leader Behera is being looked into. The administration is intent on conducting the three-tier panchayat polls in a free and fair manner."


Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.


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