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Crackdown on BJD code break

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 27: Taking cognisance of the complaints lodged by the Congress and the BJP, the state election commission today got the municipal corporation and the district administration to remove publicity materials, including flags, posters and hoardings, of the BJD from public places.

The Opposition parties told the election commission that while celebrating its foundation day, the BJD had brought thousands of its supporters to the venue in vehicles and displayed the publicity materials in public places. This, they said, amounted to violation of the model code of conduct.

Azad Hind Panigrahi, the observer appointed by the election commission, told an all-party meeting: “The state election commission has asked the collector of Khurda, election officer-cum-additional district magistrate, Bhubaneswar, and the corporation authorities to act immediately and remove all publicity materials. The order was carried out early this morning.”

The civic body removed publicity materials on the Airport-Nandankanan Road, Forest Park, Mahatma Gandhi Road, AG Square and other major public places between 6 and 7 this morning.

This is the second occasion in the recent past when state election commissioner Ajit Tripathy has taken action on violation of the model code. On December 17, he issued a letter to finance minister Prasanna Acharya asking him to be “cautious” while speaking at public gatherings and announcing anything at election meetings in future.

Speaking at a public meeting in ward No. 19 of Bargarh Municipality on November 17, Acharya had allegedly asked residents to vote for the BJD or he would stop funding projects for the urban local body. The election commission received formal complaints from the Congress and the BJP on November 21 and started a probe.

Many contesting candidates, their political representatives and senior office-bearers of the six national parties and the only state party attended the all-party meeting organised today by the election officer at Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology. Election officer-cum-additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik said: “We have advised the political parties and candidates not to put up posters at public places, religious institutions and on government buildings. They should not organise public feasts, distribute money and liquor to motivate voters.”

Mandakini Kar, an Independent candidate contesting from ward No. 61, said: “I will definitely go by the model code of conduct.”

BJD candidate from ward No. 37 Nabakishore Behera said: “Irrespective of party candidates or Independents, everyone should respect the code so that the poll process is smooth.”

D.K. Mohapatra, an Independent candidate from ward No. 52, however, alleged that complaints filed by the candidates were not being received by election officials promptly and this has created resentment among the Independents.