The Election Commission of India
Sub: Complaint against the partisan activities of the Collector Bargarh, SP, Baragarh, BDOs of Bijepur, Barpalli and Gaisilet, SDPO, Padampur and three IICs of police stations and request for measures to ensure free and fair elections-reg.
In pursuance of the decision of the Election Commission of India to schedule the bye-election to fill the casual vacancies of 02 Bijepur Assembly constituency on 24/02/2018, we would like to bring to your kind notice, the rampant misuse of the state machinery and gross abuse of muscle power by the ruling BijuJanta Dal (BJD) with a view to swing the bye elections in their favour by use of both inducements and coercion. Our earlier representation dated 3.11.17, complaining about the partisan activities of the district administration officials of Bargarh had highlighted some of these pressing concerns.
2.1 To substantiate the above allegation, I would like to highlight a couple of instances where inducements have been used to woo the voters and compromise the impartiality of the election process ab initio. With the bye elections in mind, the State Government, in the recent two to three months has announced schemes in excess of Rs.1250 Crs without budgetary provisions targeted to further its poll prospects. Sensing imminent bye-elections, the GangadharMeher Lift Canal system and the ParvatiGiri Mega Lift irrigation project with the stated intention to benefit the rain fed and drought prone areas of Bijepur were announced a month after the death of the sitting MLA Shri. SubalSahu. Further, two bridges and one power sub-station in Bijepur were inaugurated by the Chief Minister on October 2017 and an announcement to construct a Road-over-Bridge at Barpali Level crossing falling under the Bijepur assembly constituency was made.
2.2 The State Government further approved the establishment of a Sub-Registrar office and declared Notified Area council (NAC) status for Bijepur. In addition, untied funds to the tune of Rs 200 Crores have been diverted to Bijepur assembly constituency in particular to influence the voters in their favour. Large scale work orders have been issued to the BJD party workers in gross violation of all norms of financial propriety. What is more distressing and a matter of grave concern is the active involvement and connivance of the state Government officials to further the vested interests of the ruling BJD. Such intervention is being done both from the state capital and the District headquarters.
2.3 To ensure the early implementation of these polls related goodies, Sh.KarthikPandiyan, IAS & Private Secretary to Chief Minister is monitoring the developments. He has personally visited Bargarh at least 3-4 times in the past couple of months to ascertain that the schemes have their desired poll related impact and the district machinery is tuned to support the interests of the ruling party in the state. Further, the district administration has been galvanized to ensure the micro management of these schemes to further the interest of the ruling party. Anticipating bye elections, the ruling BJD ensured posting of pliable officers who can dance to the tunes of their party workers. The role of Collector-cum-District Election officer ShriKhagendra Kumar Padhi in furthering the interests of the ruling BJD is a matter of grave concern. The ADM, Sub-Collectors and BDOs especially of Bijepur, Barpalli and Gaisilet reporting to the District Collector have been categorically instructed to ensure that the district machinery works in tandem with the district BJD party workers to garner maximum support for the BJD candidate.
3.1 The ruling BJD has left no stone unturned to ensure its poll victory by using devious means. The district law and order situation has stooped to its nadir as both the police officials and the private goons have ensured a state of terror and anarchy in the constituency. The district police officials led by district SP BargarhJugal Kishore Banoth, IPS are acting in the most partisan ways to create panic and fear particularly amongst party workers and sympathisers of BJP. In particular, the SDPO PadampurShriLaxmi Narayan Panda and the Inspectors In-charge of the police stations of Bijepur, Gaisalat, and Barpali have been instrumental in foisting false and malafide cases against our workers to dampen their spirits. It would not be out of context to mention that the transfer orders of IIC of Bilepur and Gaisalat police station and four other officers in charge were issued recently keeping in view the impending bye-election. A striking instance of breakdown of law and order was witnessed on 7.1.18 when gunshots were fired at a BJP activist ShriManoranjanMeher’sresidence in Pada village of Bijepur block with amazing impunity. No action has been taken by the district police officials to nab the perpetrators of this act, vindicating our allegations in the representation dated 3.11.17.
3.2 Encouraged by the support of the police force and the chaotic situation prevailing in the constituency, the ruling BJD has ensured that private goons hired from outside the state create terror and perpetuate a “goonda raj”. These goons have allegedly been hired byShriSushant Singh, Labour Minister in Govt of Odisha and his brother ShriSubrat Singh. The state sponsored terror using the police force and the mafia sabotaging the impartiality and transparency of the poll process and make a mockery of free and fair elections in a democratic set-up.
4 In the light of the above, we would like to request your personal indulgence for immediate action in the matter at the earliest and ensure that the neutrality, credibility and impartiality of the poll process as enjoined under Art 324 of the Constitution is upheld. The following appropriate steps would go a long way in restoring the faith in the election process and ensuring that the impartiality of poll process is not compromised and that its sanctity not violated:-
a) Transfer of the Collector, Bargarh, SPBargarh, SDPO Padampur and the three BDOs and three inspectors in charge of Bijepur, Gaisilet and Barpalliresectively with immediate effect to prevent them from acting as party agents.
b) Declare all the 270 booths in the Bijepur assembly constituency as sensitive and install CCTVs not only in the booths but also in the vicinity to prevent any untoward incidents with a view to influence the poll process.
c) Deployment of Central Para Military Forces in the assembly constituency to maintain law and order.
d) Active involvement of independent general, expenditure and police observers to actively oversee and review the poll process, maintain law and order and ensure free and fair elections in Bijepur.
Dharmendra Pradhan Arun Singh
Bhupendra Yadav Sambit Patra