Bhubaneswar: Accusing Presidential candidate P A Sangma and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of violating the Constitution by playing tribal and religion card, Odisha Congress on Sunday asked them to refrain from "such method to influence voters".

"Unfortunately, Sangma and his proposer Patnaik are trying to influence voters by projecting him as a tribal and Christian candidate in violation of the Constitution, law and tradition," chief spokesman of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Narsingh Mishra told reporters here.

The Constitution clearly says that voters cannot be influenced on the basis of caste, creed and religion, he said cautioning anyone trying to do so would be disqualified.

"Not only the candidate but his supporters also trying to influence voters on these grounds are liable to be punished," he said.

"We condemn this attitude of the candidate, his proposers and supporters for using tribal and religion cards. We want them to refrain from such act," he said.

Apart from the Constitution, the President and Vice President Election Act, 1952 also provides that election for these posts can be nullified if candidates resort to undue practice to influence voters, Mishra said.

According to Representation of People Act also seeking votes in the name of caste, creed and religion is an undue practice which warrants punishment, he said claiming that attempt is also being made to divide political parties on these lines and weaken democracy to get votes.

Lashing out at Naveen Patnaik for seeking votes for Sangma using his tribal status, the Congress leader said if the Chief Minister has so much respect and love for tribals he should make a tribal the President of his party BJD.

None of the five Vice-Presidents and ten General Secretaries of ruling BJD is a tribal which shows Naveen's lack of concern for tribals, he said adding "one who does not have love and respect for tribals in his party and state should not use their name for votes."

Moreover, at least 25 tribals, including 14 in Kalinganagar in Jajpur district, have been killed in police firing during the last 12 years of BJD rule, Mishra claimed adding the way tribals are treated in Narayanpatna area of Koraput and Banai in Sundargarh district is horrifying.

Neither Patnaik nor his tribal candidate Sangma visited Kalinganagar to console the bereaved families whose members had been killed in police firing, Mishra said.
Sangma's face was never seen when tribal-dominated Kandhamal was burning amid largescale violence in 2008, the Congress leader said.


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