Opp slams BJD minister’s cash reward offer for votes

Patnaik revokes expulsion order on Prafulla Ghadai

Bhubaneswar:

Opposition BJP and Congress Thursday slammed Odisha’s Law Minister Pratap Jena for allegedly announcing cash reward for the panchayat from where the ruling BJD candidate of Salipur Assembly seat would get the maximum number of votes.

An audio tape of the minister’s “announcement” of Rs 35 lakh reward has gone viral on social media.

Alleging that the minister has violated the model code of conduct, the BJP complained to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and lodged an FIR against Jena.

The Congress also said it would loge a complaint with the CEO against the minister.

BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said the matter is under the CEO’s scanner and he will make a decision in this regard.

The minister was not available for comment.

“Jena has violated the model code of conduct. We apprised the CEO of the matter today and demanded his prosecution under the Indian Penal Code,” BJP state vice-president Samir Mohanty said.

State Congress spokesman Satya P Nayak said, “Jena should be debarred from the election process.”

At a party workers’ meeting at Salipur in Cuttack district on Wednesday, Jena allegedly said the BJD would give Rs 35 lakh cash to the panchayat from where the party’s Salipur candidate Prasant Behera would get the maximum number of votes.

The minister named Behera though the BJD is yet to release its candidate list.

Simultaneous polling will be held in Odisha for its 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 Assembly constituencies in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

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