Police said the attackers, who would be around 30 to 40 in numbers, waylaid Susanta and his associates, who were travelling in a vehicle, smashed the auto windowpanes and assaulted them with lathis and weapons.
As per the initial investigation of the police, it is an act of violence related to the by-poll seat political campaigning. The place where the incident happened is in Bhatli assembly, which is represented by the Susanta Singh in the legislative assembly.
The ministers brother Subrat Singh and his associates were travelling in a auto when the miscreants intercepted their vehicle and attacked them around 1.30am in Bargarh district, Additional Superintendent of Police Yashobant Senapati said.
Susanta and his associates were travelling in the auto when attackers opened the fire on the moving vehicle and assaulted them with lathis and weapons. But a group of miscreants, numbering about 30, intercepted the auto and attacked the four with sticks and weapon, injuring them severely. Dctors referred them to VSS Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Sambalpur, which is 75 km away.
VIMSAR Director Aswani Pujahari said there was no bullet injury on any of the four persons including the brother of the minister but they have sustained head injury and one of them whose condition is critical is likely to be shifted to Cuttack.More news: Dropbox, cloud storage company and tech unicorn, files for IPO
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Earlier on the day, Union Minister Dhrmendra Pradhan, who spearheaded the campaign for BJP candidate, called a press meet here and alleged " Odisha Chief Minister's Private Secretary VK Pandian and senior officials of CMO have sent as many as 100 State government officials to Bijepur on special leave to help the BJD in the by-poll".
"The attack was fallout of rivalry between two political groups".
He said, "We were going there when the attackers came in 4-5 vehicles and attacked us". The major contenders for the seat are Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The counting of votes for Odisha's Bijpeur bypoll will be held on February 28.