Bhubaneswar, Dec 14:
Already under fire from the Congress for his alleged partisan conduct during the recently concluded urban local bodies (ULB) polls, State Election Commissioner (SEC) Ajit Tripathy came under attack by the Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) on Saturday for his announcement that the party cannot contest the forthcoming Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) under the ‘kite’ symbol allotted to it by the Election Commission of India (ECI) recently.
Challenging the grounds on which the party has been denied the right to contest the BMC polls, OJM president Pyari Mohan Mohapatra shot off a letter to the SEC accusing him of ‘misunderstanding’ of the relevant provisions of the law.
The stipulation in the orders of the ECI that a registered unrecognized party can apply only six months before the expiry of the term and not before and latest by five days before the Notification for election is issued, are relevant for the purpose of the Election Commission of India in considering allotment of symbol of the said Party, he pointed out.
OJM, he said, had applied to the ECI exactly six months before the expiry of the term of Odisha Legislature Assembly. Besides, Rule 24 Clause 7 stipulates that candidates of registered unrecognized parties shall present the symbol allotted by Election Commission of India before the Election Officer along with the nomination papers, he pointed out.
“We are afraid that out of certain misunderstanding of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968 under which the ECI alone has the power to allot symbols to registered unrecognized parties and none else, you have given such a statement to the media which has adversely affected the interest of our party by creating confusion and doubts in the minds of the persons who are interested to contest in our party symbol,” said Mohapatra, who has been the chief electoral officer (CEO) of the state in the past.
Charging Tripathy with rushing to the media without examining the issue and giving the party adequate opportunity to present its case, the OJM chief said; “This avoidable action creates an impression that the office of the State Election Commissioner is being misused due to extraneous factors.”
Mohapatra has requested the SEC to settle the matter at the earliest as the nomination filing is starting in two days’ time and any delay is going to unduly affect the legitimate interests of the party.