Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 2:
The Election Commission today directed the Odisha government to stop using Bharat Nirman sevaks in election related activities after opposition parties accused the government of using the volunteers to bolster the BJD’s electoral prospects.
“We have directed the government that volunteers would not be used for election activities,” said Election Commissioners HS Brahma and Dr Nasim Zaidi at a joint press meet here after holding a meeting with eight political parties of the state and senior government officials for the free and fair conduct of elections in Odisha.
It is to be noted that the BJP had urged the Election Commission of India to take action in this regard. The district collectors were instructed to utilize these sevaks to pull more and more people to the booths. In the name of persuading people to cast their votes, sevaks have been allegedly trained to highlight the achievements and schemes of the Naveen government, the BJP had alleged.
Brahma informed that the political parties brought allegations of partisan conduct against three district collectors during electioneering and sought action against them. However, he did not reveal the names of these collectors, except in Khurdha.
“Some political parties have alleged that three district collectors are not conducting elections fairly and urged to ensure take necessary action. We will do further inquiry into the matter and then decide on the next course of actions,” said Brahma.
As the political parties raised security issues in the Maoists affected areas, he said adequate security will be provided to the candidates during campaign so that they can move freely.
Replying to a question over boycott of polls by some villages in Kandhamaland Rayagada districts, they said that the commission will ensure that the villagers turn up to cast their votes, if they are being intimidated by Maoists or some other elements.
Seeking cooperation from the media for information on any illegalities conducted during campaigning, including use of money and luring the voters, the Election Commissioners said the commission has set up a expenditure monitoring team and flying squads to look into the matters.
It also highlighted about the use of social media and paid news during the elections.