The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that the ruling BJD has hijacked the distribution of relief material in Cyclone Fani-hit Patkura assembly constituency, where elections are slated to be held in the coming months.  The party said the BJD had made a “mockery of democracy” by taking over the Fani relief and restoration measures.

In a complaint lodged with the returning officer, BJP candidate Bijoy Mohapatra alleged that the government-sponsored cyclone relief had been turned into a tool by BJD candidate Sabitri Agarwal to influence the voters ahead of the upcoming polls.

The complaint said the government relief was distributed by BJD candidate Agarwal in the presence of government officials in charge of relief distribution.

Furnishing photographic evidence of BJD nominee distributing Rs 500 cash relief issued by the government to the cyclone-affected people, the petition said the party was using government grants for votes and that it was gross misuse of government machinery.

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“It amounts to bribery, an offence under section- 171 (b) and 171 (c) of Indian Peal Code and representation of people act, 1950 provisions,” said the complaint.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) had postponed the polling for Patkura Assembly constituency in coastal Kendrapara district due to the devastation caused by the May 3 Cyclone Fani in Odisha.

In view of the serious devastation caused by the cyclone Fani, ECI had decided to extend the elections to Patkura assembly constituency by 60 days.

Earlier, the ECI had fixed May 19 as the date of polls for Patkura assembly segment.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, ahead of the Cyclone Fani landfall, had urged the ECI to postpone the polls in view of the cyclone warning. The state government had argued that the polls should not be held when the people were exposed to miseries due to the calamity.

Polling in Patkura Assembly seat was initially scheduled to be held on April 29, but it could not be held because of the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20. The ECI had then fixed May 19 as the new date for the Patkura polls.

All three major parties, BJD, Congress and BJP have fielded their candidates in Patkura. While BJD has fielded Agarwal’s wife Sabitri, senior leader Bijoy Mohapatra is the BJP nominee. Congress has named Jayant Mohanty as its candidate.