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Civic chief retains post

Balangir, Feb. 18: The deadlock in Balangir Municipality was finally over when an invalid vote helped sitting the chairman of Balangir municipality, Damayanti Bag, to retain her post during the no confidence motion against her here today.

Thirteen of the 14 councillors of the dissident camp voted for the motion while seven voted against it in the 21-ward BJD-led council while one vote was rejected. The opposition needed 14 votes, two-thirds majority in the 21-member council to dislodge the chairman.

After emerging victorious, municipal chairman Damayanti Bag said that it was “a change of heart” which ensured her victory. “I feel that one of the dissident councillors had changed her decision. It must be a case of change of heart. Or it may be the case of a Congress or BJP councillor who had extended support for us inspired by the towering personality of the MP and the minister our party,” Bag said referring to planning and coordination minister A.U. Singh Deo and his son Kalikesh Singh who represents Balangir in the Lok Sabha.

Bag dismissed all allegations of horse trading saying that it was due to the strong leadership of her party which helped. She called upon all the opposition councillors to cooperate with her to take up developmental works in the town.

“I request all my fellow councillors to cooperate with me,” she said. Earlier, the 14 councillors came to the municipality office in two vehicles and were looking quite confident.

The BJD councillors also came to the office much before the scheduled time to take part in the voting. The BJD-led council was reduced to a minority after four BJD councillors, namely Basumati Sa of ward no. 4, Adhina Sahu of ward no. 6, Kamalini Banchhor of ward no. 16 and Bhakta Prasad Behera of ward no. 12 resigned from the party alleging non-cooperation by the civic chief which had stalled developmental work in their wards.

The four dissident BJD councillors had joined hands with the six BJP and four Congress councillors which ensured that they had the magic number for the no trust motion.

All the 14 councillors had handed over a memorandum to the district administration demanding a no trust motion. After losing the trust vote, the 14 opposition councillors have decided to resign from the council. They are currently at an undisclosed place to decide on the matter.

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