Bhubaneswar, Dec 7:
Making a U turn on his earlier stand on the issue, Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya has admitted that he did make the controversial statement threatening to stop funds to areas that vote for the Congress in the urban local bodies (ULB) election at an election meeting in Bargarh on November 17, but has sought to explain away the statement saying it was made in ‘good humour’.
In his clarification to the State Election Commission’s show cause notice on Thursday, Acharya said that he had made the statement in ‘good humor’ while addressing party workers in the local dialect and had no idea somebody was recording it. The minister’s strange explanation has stunned the State Election Commission (SEC), which had served a show cause notice on him for violation of the model of conduct in force at the time, sources said.
Given the fact that a video clip of the Finance minister making the controversial statement had already been aired on Kanak TV, there was perhaps no way he could have denied it outright.
State Election Commissioner Ajit Kumar Tripathy said he would examine the minister’s reply, along with the Bargarh collector’s report on the incident before taking a call on the issue, possibly on Monday.
The Commission received the Bargarh collector’s report on Friday.
The Commission had sent a copy of the video aired in the media and sought a reply from the minister on December 2. It had expressed surprise over the report submitted by the Bargarh collector and sought a clarification from him. They had been asked to file their replies by December 5.
It may be noted that on November 17 the Finance minister had stated at an election meeting in ward no 19 in Bargarh to lock up funds if voters voted for the Congress instead of voting for the BJD. He had said he was the Finance minister of the state, who had the key to the state exchequer, and would not release a rupee for the area’s development if the people did not vote for his party.
After the airing of the video on Kanak TV and publication of a report based on it in OST, both Congress and BJP had knocked at the doors of the Election Commission demanding that the Commission should recommend his removal from the post of Finance minister.