The State Election Commission, Odisha has recommended suspension of a college principal and a sub-divisional police officer for alleged violation of COVID protocols and the model code of conduct for panchayat polls, an official said on Wednesday.

The SEC recommendation was based on a report from the Kendrapara district collector (DC), he said.

The DC was asked to conduct an inquiry into the alleged violation of the model code of conduct for the upcoming rural polls during a meeting at a private college in Mahakalpada area.

“Bikas Chandra Das, the principal of Maa Tarini College, was accused of organising a political meeting on the institute’s premises last week. A video of the event went viral. following which the SEC had directed the district collector to probe into the incident,” the official said.

The SEC asked the School and Mass Education Department to suspend the college principal, he said.

The poll panel has also directed the DGP Odisha to place Salipur Sub divisional Police Officer Prasanta Majhi under suspension as he had t allegedly attended the meeting at the educational institute.

A case has been registered against the principal and the SDPO under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act. the official said.

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Workers of the ruling BJD of Gadaramita gram panchayat had assembled on the college premises for the meeting and the principal and the SDPO had allegedly addressed them.

Congress leader Ganeswar Behera said. “The government machinery has been politicised. Employees are openly taking part in political programmes, which goes against the Orissa Service Code rules.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the BJD met State Election Commissioner APPadhi on Tuesday and submitted a memorandum, demanding removal of roadside hoardings, banners and posters of the BJP-led central government.

The ruling party in the state alleged that hoardings of central schemes are found at petrol pumps, railway stations, airports and other central government establishments in violation of the model code of conduct for panchayat elections.

Earlier, the commission had asked the district collectors to remove posters of the state government and its programmes across Odisha in view of the imposition of the MCC.

Panchayat polls will be held in five phases between February 16 and 24.

At least 13,356 candidates had filed their nomination papers on Tuesday, SEC secretary RN Sahoo said.

Counting of votes will take place on February 26, 27 and 28.

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