Odisha: Former Congress MLA sells off land to fund candidate daughter’s poll expenses

Former Congress MLA Devendra Sharma put on sale a part of his land in Niala village so that daughter Debasmita Sharma does not face any hurdle in her electioneering activities.
Devendra with daughter Debasmita at a campaign meeting
Devendra with daughter Debasmita at a campaign meeting Photo | Express

KENDRAPARA: Congress which is fighting a perception battle and crisis of credibility could take a cue from one of its former MLAs who sold off a portion of his ancestral land to fund election expenses of his daughter, a candidate of the grand old party from Aul Assembly segment in Kendrapara district.

Former Congress MLA Devendra Sharma put on sale a part of his land in Niala village so that daughter Debasmita Sharma does not face any hurdle in her electioneering activities. Twenty-eight-year-old Debasmita is a doctor by qualification and quit her job with the government to take the plunge into politics.

Though political parties are known to fund electoral campaign of their candidates, Devendra did not depend on support from the Congress party and instead sold five decimals of land at Niala so that his daughter’s maiden political voyage does not face any financial trouble.

The former Congress MLA said Debasmita is fighting the poll against money, muscle power and the corrupt system and needs all his support. “She is pitted against sitting BJD MLA and minister Pratap Keshari Deb and BJP candidate Krushna Chandra Panda who is a businessman. Think about the odds stacked against her,” said Devendra.

Dr Debasmita claimed her rival candidates are spending money in the election but hoped she will find favour of the voters for her sincere and honest stand to develop Aul constituency. “I sacrificed my job as a government doctor to serve the villagers. My grandfather Dr Dibakarnath Sharma was also a physician and served the people of Aul as a doctor. So did my father,” she said.

The Congress candidate recounts her father had to sell off a chunk of his land during his election campaigning in 2014. The Sharmas have represented the Aul Assembly segment in the past. Devendra was elected to the State Assembly in 2014. His father Dibakarnath, also a doctor, was a Congress MLA in 1967-71.

“The Election Commission of India (ECI) has prescribed expenditure limit of Rs 95 lakh for Lok Sabha and Rs 40 lakh for Assembly candidate but many are spending more by violating the norm. The electoral bonds data have exposed the corrupt tactics of the BJP and BJD as both parties received huge money illegally from many companies,” said Dr Debasmita.

The doctor has confidence of retired school teacher Tapan Mallick. “Now-a-days common people find it difficult to contest the election due to money and muscle power of the rich and influential candidates. But Debasmita is an exception for which we will vote for her,” said Mallick.

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