Former Odisha minister and senior BJD leader Pradeep Maharathy was arrested from his parliamentary constituency Pipli for allegedly assaulting poll officials at his farmhouse on Sunday. Maharathy, the known strongman in the political circles of Odisha, was arrested in connection with attack on the polling team, which included Election Commission officials and a magistrate. The team was allegedly attacked while conducting a raid in former minister's farmhouse on April 21 night. Latest reports that the BJD leader is unlikely to get bail in the caser. The arrest comes a day before the elections in Odisha, which is polling for both Lok Sabha And Assembly seats simultaneously.
According to a report by the New Indian Express, cash and alcohol were being allegedly distributed at the farmhouse. "Pipili IIC informed that freebies were being distributed at Maharathy's house following which we conducted a raid there. When we reached, Maharathy arrived there, started hurling abuses and thrashed us. ASI Binay Kumar Das, a driver and I sustained injuries in the attack," executive magistrate of the flying squad, Rabi Narayan Patra was quoted as saying by the daily.
Polling in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seats and 42 assembly segments coming under these constituencies will be held on Tuesday under tight security. Spearheading the campaign for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah crisscrossed the poll-bound segments addressing a host of rallies. BJP leaders including Union Ministers Uma Bharti, Nitin Gadkari, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Piyush Goyal also hit the campaign trail in these seats.
For the ruling BJD, party president and state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, seeking a fifth term this time, was at the centre stage undertaking extensive tours of the poll-bound areas and holding roadshows. While the Congress and the BJP accused the BJD of having failed to ensure development in the state despite being in power for 19 years, the ruling party charged the two parties with adopting step-motherly approach towards Odisha and ignoring its genuine demands.
The third phase polling will decide the electoral fortune of 417 candidates - 61 in six Lok Sabha seats and 356 in 42 assembly constituencies. While there are six women candidates in the six Lok Sabha seats, 38 women are in the fray for the 42 assembly segments. The state has 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats. Prominent candidates in the third phase are BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab who is seeking re-election from Cuttack Lok Sabha seat, and sitting BJD MP from Puri Pinaki Mishra, who is fighting to retain the parliamentary constituency. In Puri, Pinaki Mishra is facing a stiff challenge from BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra.
(With agency inputs)