Election Commission Actions Amidst Rising Political Tensions in Odisha


-Subhalaxmi Dash

Bhubaneswar: As the voting process for the 2024 general elections nears completion, political activity in Odisha is intensifying. Amidst this, political violence has become a significant issue. Two individuals have been murdered in Khalikote and Bargarh, while violent incidents have been reported in Khordha, Angul, and Bhadrak districts. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) aims to win this election and secure power for a sixth term. Conversely, the BJP is striving to form the government by highlighting the weaknesses of the state administration. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken major actions based on various activities.

Major Actions by the Election Commission

The Election Commission has taken action against senior IPS officer D.S. Kutte, senior IPS officer Ashish Singh, and IAS officer Sujata Karthikeyan, who is also the wife of BJD leader V.K. Pandian. D.S. Kutte has been suspended and instructed to report to Delhi, while Ashish Singh has been asked to submit a medical report. The state government was directed to transfer Sujata Karthikeyan from her position in the Mission Shakti department a few days ago.

Suspension of D.S. Kutte

Chief Minister’s Special Secretary D.S. Kutte and IGP (Chief Minister’s Security) Ashish Singh were reported to the Election Commission by Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer on Monday for unethical interference in the election process. Inputs from various field levels also substantiated these allegations, leading to Kutte’s suspension. The Chief Electoral Officer has been instructed to present the list of charges against Kutte to the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary has been asked to prepare a charge sheet by the 30th of this month.

Medical Report Submission by Ashish Singh

Senior police officer Ashish Singh has been on leave citing health issues since the 4th of this month. He has been instructed to undergo a health examination at AIIMS. An independent medical board from AIIMS Bhubaneswar will assess his health condition. The Chief Electoral Officer has been directed to coordinate with the AIIMS Director for this medical board. The Commission expects a report on Singh’s health status by the 31st of this month.

Action Against Sujata Karthikeyan

Earlier, on the 3rd of this month, the Election Commission directed the state government to transfer IAS officer Sujata Karthikeyan. A 2000 batch IAS officer, Karthikeyan has been transferred from her position as Secretary of Mission Shakti to Independent Secretary of the Finance Department. Following strict directions from the Election Commission, the state government transferred Sujata Karthikeyan, who is the wife of BJD leader V.K. Pandian. The BJP’s central leadership had lodged a complaint with the Election Commission in Delhi, alleging that Karthikeyan was misusing her position and power to act as an agent for the BJD.

These decisive actions by the Election Commission aim to ensure a fair and transparent election process in Odisha, addressing issues of political violence and unethical practices by state officials.

Subhalaxmi Dash,

MA English with Communication Studies, Christ University, Bengaluru Yeshwanthpur Campus.