Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Is the ruling BJD’s candidate in the bypoll for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat in Odisha Pratyushs Rajeswari Singh an Indian national? This issue has been raked up by the opposition parties at the very start of the poll campaign.
Sources said although Ms Rajeswari, a Nepalese, had married the former Kandhamal MP Late Hemendra Chandra Singh, whose premature death necessitated the bypoll, she had not become an Indian citizen so far.
‘She is still a citizen of Nepal’, the sources said, adding, she should have taken up Indian citizenship seven years after her marriage, which she hasn’t done as yet.
During her campaign, Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh tried to rebut ‘outsider’ charge in faltering Odia, claiming “ I am an Odia bahu and I will try my best to serve the local people.”
However, the BJP and the Congress continue to harp on the ‘fact’ that she was an ‘outsider’, who belonged to Nepal and had no links whatsoever with the people of Kandhamal. They have also made an issue out of her inability to speak Odia.
On the other hand, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha Dr Mona Sharma made it clear that she had not received any formal complaint from any party with regard to the BJD candidate’s nationality.
Dr Sharma said, as per the rules any person, who has been issued a voter identity card, is eligible to contest elections and since Ms Singh is a bonafide voter, eligibility issues do not arise.
However, she said issues, if any, relating to the validity of her nominations can be raised with the court in the form of election petitions post election.