In a ghastly pre-poll attack, Subrat Singh, brother of BJD Minister Susanta Singh and three others were attacked late last night near Sohela. The miscreants fired at the vehicle in which Subrat, Khageswar, Kartik Nag and Maji Sahu were travelling and then attacked them with lathis and sharp weapons.

All four have been admitted to Burla hospital where doctors said there was no bullet injuries on them. The bullets had hit the vehicle. Bypoll to the Bijepur assembly constituency is to be held on Saturday.

The attack took place close to Bijepur constituency after midnight on Thursday. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik decried the attack saying “violence has no place in a democracy. People of Odisha are peace loving.

I strongly condemn the cowardly act”. The ruling BJD leaders were quick to blam the BJP for the attack and even petitioned the Election Commission. The petition pointed out that yesterday morning Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who is leading the BJP campaign had demanded that Minister Susanta Singh be banished from Bijepur.

The sequence is clear, charged the BJD leaders. Prasanna Acharya, the BJD MP alleged “BJP is sure of its defeat. Hence, it is resorting to violence to disrupt the bypoll. From yesterday’s incident, it has become clear that BJP wants to win the election by money and muscle power, he said.

IG police Mr Susant Nath said three persons Jayaprakash Agrawal, Basudev Nayak and Digvijay Singh involved in the attack had been arrested. It has also seized 20 cartridges from the spot. He said it was a political attack and one of the arrested accused Basudev Nayak had contested the Zilla Parishad elections last year.

It is learnt that Nayak was a BJP candidate in the rural polls. According to police sources, at east 20 people intercepted Subrat Singh’s vehicle by firing at it. The vehicle stopped and then the miscreants smashed its windshields before assaulting its Singh and the three others.

Subrat was reportedly at Banabira village bordering Bijepur after he had got information of money being distributed to voters by some people when the attack took place.The BJP however countered all such allegations saying the attack was related to tender fixing and Subrat Singh was involved in several cases of rigging tender for works.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan squarely blamed CM Naveen Patnaik for the collapse of law and order in the state. We had alerted the administration on our apprehension of violence and several hours prior to what happened at Sohela, the administration was informed, but it failed to act, said Pradhan.

Lashing out at the BJD leadership, the Union Minister said the BJD had unleashed chit fund scamsters to campaign at Bijepur. Pradhan said several BJD leaders like Prasanna Acharya, Sanjay Das Burma, Debi Mishra are all involved in the chit fund scam.

The BJD is desperate to win the bypoll as it has realised that the people of Odisha have made up their mind to end the corrupt, inefficient 18 year rule of Naveen Patnaik, he said.