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Cong, BJD in cash clash on poll eve

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 7: An alleged attack by Congress activists on a BJD candidate for “moving around with cash” late last night has set poll temperature soaring a day before the city votes to elect councillors for the next municipal council.

The BJD alleged that Congress supporters had attacked the poll vehicle of its candidate Rankanidhi Dash, contesting from ward No. 52, near the Odisha University of Agriculture Technology.

BJD district president Babuli Mishra told The Telegraph that Congress activists had attacked five of his party men and their vehicle in Khandagiri police limits last night. Mishra said the goons had attacked Dash on the false pre-text that the BJD candidate was distributing cash.

Congress leaders, however, said Dash had been caught red-handed with cash. They had asked Dash to explain why he was carrying cash so late in the night. The BJD candidate, however, denied the charge that his supporters were carrying cash in the vehicle.

As both the sides have lodged complaints, Khandagiri police is investigating the case. Alerted by the incident, poll officials have stepped up vigil in the slum areas to prevent any acts of violations of model code by political parties. Reacting to the incident, election officer-cum-additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik said: “As there is a chance of model code violation following allegations and counter-allegations of money transfer during the campaign process, poll observers are on high alert and inspecting major slum pockets in the city.”

Poll observers are visiting major slums such as Salia Sahi, Pathar Bandha, Kargil Basti, Munda Sahi, Chitrakali, Amba Tota, Dhirikuti, Tarini Nagar, Khandagiribari, Bharatpur, Science Park, Haladi Padia, Bayababa, Mali Sahi, Kela Sahi and Jharana between 6pm and 10pm on daily basis.

In another development, city police today shifted inspector in charge of Laxmisagar police station K.C. Mund for taking a partisan approach in the ongoing process for election to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. The action was taken following an order from the poll panel. “Laxmisagar inspector in-charge has been replaced with Manoj Samant for the time being,” said police commissioner R.P. Sharma.

Supporters of a candidate contesting from ward No. 33 had accused the Laxmisagar police of partisan approach. They had also alleged that money was being distributed in their ward and the police did not act even though the matter was brought to their notice. Sources said that Mund had been warned two days ago following a report filed by one of the poll observers. On the other hand, political parties and Independent candidates are trying their best to reach out to most voters by distributing pushing cards and voter’s serial number.

Webcasting

For the first time, the poll panel will webcast the electioneering in 20 important booths to ensure free and fair elections. Internet users can also access the webcasting process, which is also called video streaming.

However, there is a rider. Special secretary, state election commission, R.N. Sahu said: “We have not made it accessible to the public, but only to a group of select government officials associated with the poll process. They have been given user IDs and passwords to access the facility.’’

Teams spread out

Polling teams were dispatched to 660 booths across the city from the BJB College, where voting materials and EVMs had been kept. About 4,000 officials, including police personnel, have been deployed on election duty.