BHUBANESWAR: India’s top sprinter Dutee Chand ran into a controversy on Wednesday. Also an Election Commission brand ambassador for the General Elections, the Asian Games medalist courted a row for allegedly supporting and campaigning for Achyuta Samanta, the BJD candidate from Kandhamal Parliamentary constituency.
Dutee, in a Facebook post, exuded confidence about Samanta winning the election from Kandhamal which goes to polls on Thursday.“I am confident that people of Kandhamal will vote for you (Samanta) in large numbers for overall development of their district,” read the post which Dutee deleted after drawing flak from various quarters.
Since she can not take sides being a brand ambassador of the poll panel, the BJP took exceptions to the post 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) to create awareness among voters for the polls.
Dutee, however, clarified later 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 involvement of a brand ambassador in campaigning for any particular party or candidate is unhealthy, CEO Surendra Kumar ordered a probe in this regard.A senior official said her post was found to be not intentional. Dutee has also removed it from her Facebook account immediately after it was pointed out, the official informed.
In March, the CEO had shortlisted names of six well-known personalities from the State including Dutee, 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.
KIIT Group of Institutions and KISS, founded by Samanta, has in the past extended support to the international sprinter.