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Election panel cuts flight of Morcha’s poll kite

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s Odisha Jan Morcha today suffered a jolt as the state election commission (SEC) has decided that the newly floated party cannot use its kite symbol in the forthcoming Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation polls.

Not ready to give in without a fight, the Morcha has said that it would move Orissa High Court against the poll panel’s decision.

State election commissioner Ajit Kumar Tripathy said: “Kite is not included in the free symbol list of the civic polls. Morcha leaders should have informed us about their intention at least three months before the dissolution of the municipal council with the design of their symbol. The election commission’s letter should have been given to the state election commission five days prior to the poll notification.”

Morcha leader Mihir Mohanty, who is also the first mayor of Bhubaneswar, said: “The letter from the Election Commission of India dated December 12 was given to the SEC the next day. As the poll notification was made by the SEC on December 6, they should have accepted our application.”

Political observers feel that the Morcha might eat into the BJD’s vote bank because many workers at grassroots level owe loyalty to Mohapatra, who as chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s close advisor wielded considerable authority in the city unit for a long time.

Tripathy quoted extensively from the Election Symbol (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, to justify the decision to reject the Morcha’s claims.

A senior officer at the poll panel’s office explained that the symbol of kite could be used during the forthcoming Assembly polls and not in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation elections.

Another officer at the poll panel said: “The one-time allotment of the kite symbol has been given to the Morcha keeping in mind the forthcoming general and the 2014 Assembly elections.”

In a related development, BJP candidate from Chakeisiani and Mancheswar area Santosh Kumar Mohanty became the first to submit his nomination papers today.

The Congress nominee, Seikh Aftab Ali from Jadupur, too, filed his papers.

Although the two national parties are yet to be announce their lists of candidates, the two are expected to secure nominations.

Mohanty, a councillor of Chakeisiani during 2003-08, said: “The drinking water problem of the locality was addressed during my stint. The main problem lies with linking Chakeisiani with Mancheswar across the Daya West canal. The existing bridge is narrow and is in a bad condition. My priority will be to have at least three bridges to connect the two localities across the canal.”

Seikh Aftab Ali from Jadupur, who was accompanied by Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray, alleged that his locality remained neglected.

Saying that a road in front of his own house was not metalled even after 15 years, Ali alleged that though the housing board had constructed a mega project in the area in the early 1980s, roads and drains were yet to be developed.

The principal contender, the Biju Janata Dal, is busy finalising the list.

“All the MLAs have forwarded our recommendations to the chief minister. The party leader will take the final call,” said Bhubaneswar (Ekamra) MLA Ashok Kumar Panda.