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Amid ‘detention’ drama, BJD rebel wins chairperson post of Chhatrapur samiti

Opponent Sugyani Sethy backed by MLA Subash Chandra Behera lost out by six votes.

Published: 03rd April 2022 04:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2022 04:41 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purposes only. ( File Photo)

Image for representational purposes only. ( File Photo)

By Express News Service

BERHAMPUR: After a night of high drama over alleged detention of panchayat samiti (PS) members, BJD rebel candidate Kiran Kumari Das won the Chhatrapur chairperson post in the repolling on Saturday putting an end to speculations over the election for more than 20 days.

Opponent Sugyani Sethy backed by MLA Subash Chandra Behera lost out by six votes. This came a day after 12 PS members, rooting for Kiran, alleged detention by police in Barkul (Khurda), to prevent them from voting. 

Kiran Kumari Das

On Friday, the 12 PS members claimed that they were on a visit to Barkul in Khurda district when police turned up, seized their mobile phones and allegedly locked them in the hotel at around midnight. 

The police, they said, locked them up to stop them from voting in the election scheduled at noon the following day. “We got a complaint that the samiti members might be threatened and stopped from casting their votes. They were given protection at the hotel as a precautionary measure. Police did not detain them. They can leave whenever they want,” SDPO Gautam Kishan clarified. 

On Saturday, the PS members were escorted by police to Chhatrapur block office. After the election result was announced, many dissident BJD activists lit firecrackers and also burnt the effigy of MLA Subash Behera.

The PS chairperson election that was scheduled on March 12 had been postponed to April 2 after six samiti members reportedly tested Covid positive. As two groups of the BJD were at loggerheads over their choice of candidates for the post, this was seen as a ‘ploy’ to defer the election as it was losing the post in Chhatrapur reserved for women. 

Of the 18 members, 15 posts were bagged by BJD supporters which included nine dissidents and six supported MLA Behera. The rest three were backed by CPI. 

Since most of the PS members were reportedly aggrieved with the MLA’s selection of Sugyani, the three CPI PS members joined hands with the nine BJD dissidents and selected Kiran for the chairperson post. On March 12, Kiran filed her nomination as a contender for the chairperson post, claiming to have a majority.

Sugyani too submitted her papers. All 18 PS members were present in the block office waiting for the election when all of a sudden, six PS members supported by MLA Behera went outside and sat in another room.

Soon after, the election officials declared the polls postponed as the six of them tested positive for Covid. Miffed with the decision, the rest 12 PS members staged a protest outside the residence of Ganjam Collector and alleged that this was a ploy by BJD to defer the election as the MLA’s candidate was losing.

Sources say, as soon as the election was postponed, the 12 PS members left for undisclosed locations as the MLA’s supporters made desperate attempts to woo them back.

On March 25, the State Election Commission fixed the date for chairperson election on April 2 and vice-chairperson on April 13. As per reports, infighting in the BJD was acute in the block as a result of which the party lost three NACs - Chhatrapur, Rambha and Ganjam - under Chhatrapur assembly segment.



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