BHUBANESWAR: Election Commission's brand ambassador for General Elections 2019 sprinter Dutee Chand courted controversy on Wednesday for allegedly supporting and campaigning for BJD Lok Sabha candidate from Kandhamal Achyuta Samanta.
Dutee in a Facebook post had exuded the confidence of Samanta winning the election from Kandhamal where polling will be held on Thursday. “I am confident that people of Kandhamal will vote for you (Samanta) in large numbers for the overall development of their district,” read the post which Dutee deleted after drawing flak from various quarters.
The BJP took exceptions to it and accused Dutee of campaigning in favour of the BJD candidate. A delegation of BJP demanded her removal from the list of ‘State Icons’ announced by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar to create awareness among voters for the simultaneous polls.
Dutee, however, clarified that she did not support any political party or candidate. “It was my gratitude towards him (Samanta) for his support for the growth of my career in sports,” she wrote on the social media platform. Admitting that the involvement of a brand ambassador in campaigning for any particular party or candidate is unhealthy, the CEO ordered a probe in this regard.
Joint CEO for Odisha Raghuram Iyer said her post was not found intentional. Dutee has also removed it from her facebook profile immediately after it was pointed out, he informed.
In March, the CEO had shortlisted names of six well-known personalities from the State including sprinter Dutee Chand, para-athlete Jayanti Behera and para shuttler Pramod Bhagat as ‘state icons’ to rope them in various voter awareness and sensitisation drives for the elections.
The icons were selected under Systematic Voter's Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.