Bhubaneswar: Opposition BJP and the Congress Thursday urged the Election Commission to debar Health and Family Welfare Minister Pratap Jena from contesting election for offering bribe to voters to ensure victory of a BJD candidate in clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
Jena allegedly offered bribe to voters while addressing a party workers’ meeting in Mala of Salipur Assembly constituency Wednesday. Jena allegedly said that his party (BJD) would give Rs 35 lakh cash to the Panchayat and Rs 15 lakh to the booth which would generate maximum votes to local BJD candidate Prasant Behera. The money will be given from MLA Local Area Development (LAD) fund, he had said.
BJP’s state unit vice-president Sameer Mohanty told the media here that Jena, at a public meeting, has announced to provide Rs 35 lakh to a Panchayat and Rs 15 lakh to a booth which would give maximum votes to the BJD candidate which is in complete violation of the MCC.
The BJP team led by Mohanty Thursday submitted a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) urging him to initiate action against the minister for violating the MCC.
The Cuttack district BJP president also filed an FIR against Jena at Salipur police station in this regard.
Mohanty said since open offering of bribe by a minister after the MCC came into force is a cognisable offence, the Election Commission should take cognisance of it and take stern action against the minister and prevent him from filing nomination.
The BJP leader said the minister had asked the media repeatedly to switch off their mobile phones and cameras in the meeting and thereby violated the fundamental rights of the media as well as the common people.
Congress spokesperson Satya Prakash Nayak also dubbed the open offering of bribe by the minister to voters as an offence and violation of the MCC. He demanded the EC to initiate strong action against the minister.
Nayak urged the EC not to allow Jena to contest elections and asked the BJD not to field him as a candidate in the elections.
Reacting to this allegation from the Opposition, BJD spokesperson Puspendra Singh Deo said, “As elections are nearing, Opposition parties will make such allegations. They will also make false and baseless complaints. I don’t think it will be wise to comment on it without knowing the facts.”
Another BJD leader said the matter is now with Election Commission and it will act accordingly.