EC holds a discussion with political parties ahead of polls in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: A six-member team of the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday held a consultation session with major political parties in Odisha to discuss preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state.

The ECI team, led by Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, held the discussion with representatives of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and Communist Party of India (CPI) among others.

The political parties urged the ECI to conduct free and fair elections in the state.

“We informed the ECI about the misuse of government agencies by both the Centre and the Odisha government. We also requested for a free and fair election protecting the integrity of elections,” said Congress leader Narasingh Mishra.

BJD leader Amar Patnaik said they had informed the ECI about the involvement of BJP leaders in violence during the Bijepur Assembly by-elections and urged the officials to take steps to prevent repeating such violence.

“We also informed the team about the cash hoarding at petrol pumps and cash transferred through the petrol pumps. Attention should be given on attempts being made for communal violence in the area to disrupt the election process,” said Patnaik.

BJP leader Bhrugu Baxipatra said they had informed the ECI team about the Biju Yuva Vahini and misuse of power by the ruling party in the state.

“We informed the EC team about possible poll rigging and violence by the BJD workers during the polls. We also told them about the previous poll violence in which BJP workers were killed by BJD workers,” said Baxipatra.

The ECI officials, along with the state government officials, will review the law and order situation on February 15.