Prasanna seeks 7 days to reply to showcause

Finance Minister Prasanna AcharyaFinance Minister Prasanna Acharya has requested for seven days time to reply to the show-cause notice served on him by the State Election Commission (SEC) after he was accused of threatening the voters with stopping funds if they did not vote for the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the second phase polls to the urban local bodies (ULBs).

Acharya made the request to the SEC in a letter on Saturday. Sources in the SEC said that the Bargarh Collector is also yet to submit a report on the matter.

The Minister is reported to have said in the letter that though the SEC issued the letter to him on Thursday, it reached him on Saturday. Acharya said that he was not be able to reply to the letter the same day as he was busy with the meeting of Council of Ministers convened to approve the first supplementary budget for 2013-14.

The SEC had on Thursday directed the Bargarh Collector to submit a report on the incident by Saturday. But he failed to do so. The report from the District Collector is likely to be submitted by Monday.

Acharya has been in the eye of the storm after it was reported that the Minister, while campaigning in ward number 19 in Bargarh municipality, threatened the voters with stopping funds if they did not vote for the BJD.  In separate memoranda submitted to the SEC, the Congress and the BJP demanded the resignation of the Minister for violation of model code of conduct. The Congress demanded that election to Bargarh municipality should be stopped and fresh polls announced.

Of the 19 wards in Bargarh municipality, the BJD won 15 while the Congress and the BJP could win in two and one wards, respectively. Independents and others won in one ward.

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