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Odisha poll officials seize home appliances meant for bribing voters

Poll officials suspect the home appliances including refrigerators and mixer grinders were meant to bribe voters.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 14, 2019 21:24 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Lok Sabha elections 2019,General elections 2019,Lok Sabha election campaign
The home appliances were seized from a truck in Kanas, 50 km south of Bhubaneswar on Sunday. (HT PHOTO)

The ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress have promised freebies to voters in their manifestos, but not willing to take chances, political parties are now being suspected of trying to bribe voters with home appliances.

A flying squad of officials of Election Commission on Sunday seized ten refrigerators and about dozens of mixer-grinders from a vehicle near Chupuring village in Kanas, about 50 km south of Bhubaneswar. There were some other electronic gadgets too in that vehicle.

“Most likely the electronic items were meant to lure voters. It was meant for women Self Help Groups. The vehicle had no papers that could justify its transport. Normally when a wholesaler sells the electronic items to a retailer it should have the necessary papers. We are interrogating the driver to find out more,” said Puri district collector and returning officer for Puri Lok Sabha constituency, Jyoti Prakash Das.

Officials suspect the ruling BJD’s involvement in the bribery bid.

The six lakh women SHGs in Odisha constitute the core votebank of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Formed under Mission Shakti, these SHGs are getting bank loans at low interest rates which help its women member become entrepreneurs. As a gratitude to the women voters, Patnaik even chose a SHG activist to contest as MP from Aska Lok Sabha constituency.

Kanas from where the seizure was made, comes under Satyabadi assembly constituency from where BJD’s Umakant Samantray is pitted against former State Congress chief Prasad Harichandran. BJP has fielded jewellery shop owner Om Prakash Mishra.

Elections to the Odisha legislative assembly are being held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha polls.

The Election Commission so far has seized Rs 2.97 crore cash from several vehicles in Odisha, but seizure of electronic items is the first such incident this poll season.

First Published: Apr 14, 2019 21:24 IST