Odisha Electoral Chief Launches Probe into Alleged Poll Code Violations by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and MP Aparajita Sarangi

In a bid to uphold the integrity of the electoral process, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha has taken decisive action following allegations of electoral code violations against Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Sambalpur MLA Jaynarayan Mishra, and Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi. These allegations have emerged just ahead of the concurrent Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, adding fuel to an already charged political environment.

Prompted by complaints lodged by representatives of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the CEO has instructed the Collectors of Sambalpur and Khurda to conduct thorough investigations into the alleged breaches of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The directives, delivered with a sense of urgency, include a stringent timeline, with a mandate to furnish probe reports within 24 hours.

Among the accusations raised by the BJD is the claim that Pradhan and Mishra convened a meeting within the premises of a government office in Sambalpur on April 20, purportedly violating the MCC guidelines. Additionally, it is alleged that they engaged in discussions with officers and cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC), further flouting electoral protocols.

Meanwhile, another complaint targets Sarangi, accusing her of involving children in BJP campaign activities preceding the polls in Bhubaneswar. Such allegations, if proven true, could have significant repercussions on the electoral prospects of the accused candidates and their respective parties.

The initiation of these probes adds intensity to the already heated electoral atmosphere in Odisha, as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik gears up to commence his campaign on April 24. Patnaik, a stalwart of Odisha politics, is poised to launch his electoral endeavors from the Hinjili Assembly constituency in Ganjam district, marking his sixth consecutive bid for re-election from the same seat. His campaign holds immense significance, not only for the ruling BJD but also for the broader political landscape of the state.

Following his campaign kick-off, Patnaik is slated to extend his political outreach to Rayagada district on April 25, amplifying the momentum of the BJD’s electoral machinery and further solidifying his party’s position ahead of the polls.

Of significant importance are the impending polls in various constituencies, with Lok Sabha seats such as Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Berhampur, and Koraput, along with their corresponding Assembly segments, slated for voting on May 13. Subsequently, on May 20, attention will shift to five additional Lok Sabha constituencies and their associated Assembly seats, ensuring a staggered electoral process across the state.

As the electoral landscape intensifies, the outcome of these investigations and the subsequent actions taken will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of the electoral narrative in Odisha, influencing voter sentiments and political dynamics in the days leading up to the polls.

(With inputs from agencies)

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