Bhubaneswar: On the last day of campaigning for the February 24 Bijepur Assembly by-election, the three major parties, BJD, BJP and Congress held Press conferences to lash out at their opponents on Thursday.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan attacked the BJD and the State Government officials for their alleged undue support to the ruling party. He pointed fingers at the Third Floor (Chief Minister’s Office) accusing as many as five officers.
“Under the guidance and instruction of five officers of the Third Floor, 100 other State Government employees have been sent to Bijepur to influence the election and help the ruling party,” alleged Pradhan at a Press meet. He further alleged that Labour Minister Susanta Singh is utilising the police for the election purpose in favour of his party. At the same time, Singh is also spreading a reign of terror, alleged Pradhan.
Pradhan showed a photograph to the media alleging that the man involved in the Pada village firing is a close associate of Minister Singh. Pradhan also levelled a series of allegations against the BJD but didn’t speak a single word against the Congress.
BJD MP and vice president Prasanna Acharya at a Press meet said Pradhan is misusing his Ministerial power and grossly violating the model code of conduct. “Dharmendra has got direct links with the mafia Dhalasamanta brothers and he is a beneficiary of the D brothers’ empire. Despite Dharmendra being a Minister, he doesn’t maintain minimum decency. He is a “criminal,” said Acharya.
Acharya said the BJP, before the 2014 general elections, had promised to give jobs to two crore youths in a year. Have they even given one lakh jobs in a year, questioned Acharya. “Pradhan has gone to the extent of going to the petrol pumps personally and threatening the owner him to close his pump. “When Pradhan is levelling allegations against the officials of the State Government, under what circumstances the officials of HPCL from Sambalpur went to seal a petrol pump in Bargarh. Is he not using his ministry officials in the election,” Acharya asked.
Acharya said the BJP is well aware of the ground reality and is preparing an escape route to give statements after declaration of the result on February 28 since it is sure of a miserable defeat.
The Congress also did not remain silent. Senior leader and former Union Minister Srikant Jena said the Election Commission is not going to conduct the by-poll in a free and fair manner. “Under the present scenario, election would not be conducted in a free and fair manner,” said Jena. “Both BJD and BJP are auctioning each family for Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 to cast vote in their favour,” he alleged.