Bhubaneswar: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Thursday filed a petition with Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar alleging that petrol pumps and gas agencies in Odisha are used as cash hoarding and distribution points for the 2019 elections under the instruction of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
A delegation of BJD comprising Debasis Samantaray, Puspendra Singh Deo, Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, Umakanta Samantray, Pranab Balabantray and Sasmit Patra met the CEO and demanded strict action against such illegal activities.
“During the Bijepur by-elections in Odisha, huge amount of cash was seized from petrol pump owners and their managers. This highlighted the rampant misuse of petrol pumps and potentially gas agencies as cash hoarding points and distribution points during the election,” the BJD stated in the petition.
“This has become a new low in Odisha politics after BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan has become Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister. He is well-known for his misuse of petroleum companies, their organisational structure and processes as well as its officers and petrol pumps/gas agencies for his political motives,” the petition added.
The ruling party further alleged that BJP led by Union Minister Pradhan seeks to undertake such illegalities and violate all norms of democratic and electoral ethos to fight an election which was clearly seen during Bijepur by-elections.
“Unless strict and tough measures are undertaken, the Petrol Pumps and Gas agencies would continue to be used as cash hoarding points by Pradhan and the personnel of these Pumps and agencies as couriers and delivery network during elections to illegally influence voters and violate the spirit of a clean and transparent election,” the petition further stated.
“We hope you will ensure strict surveillance and monitoring of all Petrol Pumps and Gas agencies in this regard and provide the voters of Odisha a free and fair election,” it added.