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BJD BJP Face Off

Governing BJD and Opposition BJP have entered into a slugfest over the political violence at Mahanga in Cuttack district where two persons including a saffron party leader were killed.

While BJP highlights the rise in political violence in the state during the BJD regime, the ruling party claimed that the State Government adopts a zero tolerance to political violence.

Meanwhile, BJP announced a state-wide agitation demanding resignation of Law Minister Pratap Jena over his alleged involvement in the Mahanga double murder case.

BJP leader Kulamani Baral and his associate Dibyasingha Baral were killed at Mahanga in Cuttack. The saffron party is angry after Law Minister Pratap Jena’s name figured in the list of accused persons.

The saffron party activities also on Monday staged agitation and burnt effigies of the Law Minister.

While serving an 48-hour ultimatum to the Odisha Government for arrest of culprits involved in the twin murder case, BJP State General Secretary Prithivraj Harichandan said the party activists will stage demonstration before all the police stations on Tuesday followed by ghero of SP offices across the state on Wednesday and a demonstration near DGP office on January 8.      

BJP’s Salipur in-charge and ex- Mahanga Block Chairman Kulamani Baral and his associate Divyasingha Baral were hacked to death on Saturday night.

Jena and 12 others have been booked under various sections of the IPC, including 302 (murder), based on a complaint lodged by the deceased BJP leader’s son Ramakanta.

The Minister, Law however, alleged that the saffron party was “politicizing the case and dragging his name into the matter for no reason”.

Four days prior to the incident, Ramakanta said his father had told him that Jena, who is also the local MLA, threatened to kill the two of them.

“The Minister is completely responsible for the murder of my father. The miscreants killed my father on the local MLA’s direction as he had raised his voice against Jena’s corrupt methods,” he said.

Taking to Twitter, BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra drew parallels between the political situation in Odisha and neighboring West Bengal.

“Senior BJP leader Kulamani Baral of Mahanga was brutally hacked to death just because he spoke against the corruption of Minister Pratap Jena in Odisha Govt. The Minister’s name finds a mention in the FIR as well. Is Odisha going the Bengal way?” Mr.Patra tweeted.

Echoing him, Bhubaneswar MP and BJP National Spokesperson  Aparajita Sarangi said, “The state has witnessed at least 17 political murders involving BJP leaders since the previous panchayat elections in 2012. Odisha is going on the Bengal way so far political violence is concerned.”

Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray sought to know how the law minister, despite being named an accused in the double murder case, was allowed to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Orissa High Court Chief Justice earlier in the day.

Mr.Jena, in his defence, claimed that the opposition has the habit of pointing fingers at ruling party leaders for every crime recorded in the state.

“The investigation will reveal the truth. It will be my personal endeavor to ensure that the culprits are arrested and punished,” he added.

Rejecting BJP’s allegation of rise in the political violence in the state, ruling BJD spokesperson Chinmay Sahoo told reporters that the Odisha Government  adopts “Zero Tolerance” towards political violence. “Parties which are in power in other states with more political violence, shouldn’t criticize Odisha Government,” he said.

Stating that the NCRB ‘Crime in India 2019’ report, mentioned that Odisha didn’t report a single political murder in 2019, the BJD spokesperson pointed out that neighboring West Bengal has reported 12 political murders followed by 6 political murders each in Bihar & Jharkhand.

Karnataka and Punjab reported 4 political murders each in 2019, Mr.Sahoo said adding that different parties are in power in different states.

“In the Mahanga double murder case, Cuttack SP (Rural) B. Jugal Kishore has already said no one would be spared & all the accused will soon be apprehended,” he pointed out. 

On the BJP’s allegations against the Law Minister Pratap Jena, the BJD spokesperson said: “Let the probe be over to know the exact reasons behind the murders. BJD has never tolerated any kind of political violence & in the Mahanga case also, the guilty will not be spared.”