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BJD leaders flout COVID norm during nominations for Odisha panchayat elections

Contestants from the BJD including sarpanch candidate Laxmipriya Behera, panchayat samiti member candidate Arabind Tarai and ward member post contenders carried out mass rallies.

Published: 21st January 2022 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2022 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

Candidates and supporters violating norms during a rally in Jagatsinghpur

Candidates and supporters violating norms during a rally in Jagatsinghpur. (Photo| EPS)

By Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR/CUTTACK/ BHAWANIPATNA: Despite State Election Commission (SEC) and Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) guidelines, violation of COVID protocol by the ruling BJD during filing of nomination papers for the upcoming panchayat elections has triggered resentment among people as cases are rising in Jagatsinghpur district.

Locals have alleged that the administration is turning a blind eye to the defiance of safety norms by the candidates, as no action is being taken against the violators. As per the guidelines, physical rallies by various political parties have been restricted while candidates have been asked to strictly adhere to social distancing and wearing masks during filing of nominations.

However on Wednesday, contestants from the BJD including sarpanch candidate Laxmipriya Behera, panchayat samiti member candidate Arabind Tarai and ward member post contenders carried out mass rallies by beating drums during nomination filing in Paradipgarh under Kujang displaying party banners with a picture of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

They also burnt firecrackers while most of them did not wear masks or maintain social distance. While people including women and children gathered in large numbers, allegations are rife that the administration is keeping mum as violators are leaders from the ruling party. 

Contacted, Kujang tehsildar Ritiparna Mishra said, "Rallies during election campaigns have been restricted. But I am unaware of the norm violation in Paradipgarh and will inquire into the allegations." Meanwhile, COVID cases surged in  Jagatsinghpur with the district reporting 165 new infections on the day. Total Covid cases in the district now stand at 29,930 with 322 deaths.

The administration also gave orders for shutdown of the Kujang Civil Court for three days, after detection of 12 cases on the premises. Collector Parul Patawari said, the court will remain shut till January 22. Similarly, in Cuttack, the situation can be evident from the scenario at Mahanga block office on Thursday. 

Despite the presence of police, some PS member candidates who had come to file nomination papers by making gigantic rallies which have been banned SEC in view of COVID-19 pandemic were found making huge gatherings with hundreds of their supporters in front of BDO office.

And the matter of concern is that a majority of people accompanying the candidates during filing of nomination papers are not adhering to COVID safety measures. In Kalahandi, candidates along with supporters were seen rushing to block and Sub-Collector offices to hand over their papers while not paying any heed to COVID regulations. Norms including wearing masks and social distancing were breached during the last minute activities.



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