Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Pattamundai, Jan 31:

A day after Gayatri Sethi, one of the Samiti Sabhya candidates making a volte face in the controversial Penthapala panchayat alleged fraudulent withdrawal of nominations issue, another candidate Pramila Mallick today stuck to her earlier statement that she had not applied for withdrawing her nominations.

“I have neither visited the block office nor have applied for withdrawal of my nominations,” Pramila told reporters after recording her statement before Kendrapara ADM-cum-Inquiry Officer Dhananjay Swain at his camp office here.

Pramila submitted a written statement to the Inquiry Officer while then Pattamundai BDO Prashant Rout and other officials who had assisted him at the time of withdrawal of nominations also recorded their depositions.

While Gayatri did not turn up before the Inquiry Officer today, her husband Daitari Sethi appeared before the Inquiry Officer.

“I have recorded statements of all proposers, seconders and candidates. I have recorded the statement of the BDO and of block employees who had helped him in withdrawal work. I am examining these statements. I am yet to arrive at a definite conclusion. On its completion I will give my personal opinion,” informed Kendrapara ADM-cum-Inquiry Officer Dhananjay Swain to reporters.

It will be worthwhile to mention here that two female Samiti Sabhya candidates-Pramila Mallick and Gayatri Sethy had on January 22 lodged written complaints against Kendrapara MLA Kishore Tarai and Pattamundai BDO for getting their nominations withdrawn fraudulently.

The two had alleged in their complaints that the MLA with the help of the BDO had fraudulently managed to withdraw their nominations without their knowledge to get Babita Tarai wife of Kendrapara MLA to get elected uncontested.

The two complainants accompanied by a delegation of the Congress led by senior leader Ganeswar Behera had met the SEC on January 24 and lodged a complaint with the Commission on this account.

Following which the SEC ordered an inquiry and basing on the report Pattamundai BDO was transferred.

In an interesting twist to the controversy, Gayatri’s husband Daitari Sethi on Monday submitted letters to the Collector and SP purportedly written by Gayatri stating that she had in person along with her seconders and proposers submitted her application before the BDO on January 21to withdraw her candidature.

She had claimed in the letter that yielding to pressure from Congress leaders she had stated that she had not withdrawn her nominations while alleging that it was fraudulently withdrawn.

Daitari had also visited the SEC on Monday and met him in this connection.