Odisha and Maharashtra seek poll code relief over Fani, drought

BJP supporters wave towards the helicopter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he leaves after an election campaign rally, in Muzaffarpur : Photo: PTI
As political slugfest continued for the three remaining phases of Lok Sabha polls, the state governments of Odisha and

Maharashtra knocked at the doors of the Election Commission (EC) with requests to relax the model code of conduct. While Odisha faces the threat of “severe cyclonic storm” FANI, regions of Maharashtra are drought-affected.


Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was in New Delhi to meet EC officials. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dharmendra Pradhan also called on Patnaik. Elections to Odisha’s 146 of 147 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats concluded on Monday.


However, elections to Patkura Assembly constituency in Kendrapara district are scheduled for May 19. In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Patnaik said the cyclone is expected to make a landfall in Kendrapara district, and is likely to cover districts of Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and Kendrapara.


Patnaik requested that since the polls were all but over in Odisha, the model code of conduct with regard to disaster management be completely removed for all coastal districts of the state to enable the government to handle the situation.


The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast that a very severe cyclonic storm FANI is likely to hit the Odisha coast on May 3 night. Patnaik asked the EC to postpone the polls to Patkura after May 19.


Polling in Patkura Assembly segment was postponed following the death of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20.


Meanwhile, Pradhan meeting Patnaik led to speculation that the BJP might be trying to reach out to the Odisha CM. The BJD and the BJP were allies in the state and the Centre until 2009. Patnaik severed the alliance in the wake of the communal riots in Kandhamal in 2008. The BJP, if it were to fall short of the majority mark, could need support not just from its existing allies, but also parties like BJD, YSR Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samiti to form the government.


Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also wrote to the EC to relax the model code of conduct to allow drought relief works. As many as 151 talukas in the state have been declared drought hit. The four phased elections in Maharashtra ended on Monday with polling for 17 of its 48 seats. Rest of the seats had polled in the previous three phases.


In other news, the Trinamool Congress in a letter to the EC demanded "strong action" for the "unfounded, inappropriate and illegal" campaign and utterances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At an election rally on Monday in Sreerampur, the PM had claimed that 40 Trinamool legislators were in touch with him. He had said these MLAs would desert the TMC after the election results were declared.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response of the Election Commission on a plea by a Congress MP alleging Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations by the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah on their alleged hate speeches and using armed forces for “political propaganda”.


A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the poll panel was free to pass orders on complaint of Sushmita Dev, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Silchar in Assam. The bench, also comprising Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph, fixed Dev’s plea for hearing on Thursday.

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