Senior Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi has alleged horse-trading in Zilla Parishad Chairman Election in Sundergarh

Despite the State Government including an anti-defection clause in the Zilla Parishad (ZP) Rules, 1994, there should be no doubt that some ZP Members have cross-voted in the Zilla Parishad Presidents’ elections held on Sunday last.

Senior Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi has alleged horse-trading and a deal of huge amount of money to secure one vote for the ruling BJD which formed Zilla Parishad in Sundargarh. Dr. Majhi has indicted some senior leaders of the Congress and suspected that the deal amount could be about Rs 1 crore.

“I have been told that a `1-crore deal was struck to support the BJD candidate, and the exact amount can only be verified from those who were involved in the transaction. Definitely, either the district president of the party or the Pradesh Congress Committee is involved in the matter. Otherwise, such a deal would have not been possible. I would suggest that those involved be expelled from the party at the soonest,” said Majhi.

As Majhi pointed fingers at former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal,  Sundargarh district Congress president Dushmanta Nayak and the PCC leadership, the question is going round who received the amount.

Biswal said, “I do not know what horse trading Majhi is talking about, I have no clue. If he can prove my involvement then I will quit politics.”

It is alleged that the deal between the BJD and the Congress was made at a hotel in Bhubaneswar. Sundargarh Congress MLA Jogesh Singh said, “I was present there at Suryansh hotel in Bhubaneswar along with the election in-charge of the party. We have never dealt with any Ministers. Whatever decision was taken, it was based on everyone’s suggestions. We joined hands with the BJD because they agreed to our demands of giving us the Vice-President post.”

District Congress president Dushmant Nayak said, “There were not closed-door meetings. Every ZP Member barring one was present when we were approached by some agent of the BJD. Dr Majhi should prove his allegation, else we will file a defamation suit.”

Of the 35 ZP seats in Sundargarh, the BJD secured only 14 seats while the minimum requirement to form the ZP was 18. The BJP won 13 seats followed by five seats by the Congress and one each seat by CPI, CPI(M) and Independent.

Even after securing support of the CPI and CPI(M) members and the Independent, the BJD was still short of one seat, which could be arrangement from a Congress member.