Andhra Pradesh holds panchayat polls in disputed Kotia region

In presence of Andhra electoral officials, the voting began at 6.00 AM in five villages of Kotia clusters and continued till 3 PM

BHUBANESWAR: Despite request by the Odisha government, the Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday executed its plan amid tight security in the disputed Kotia region in Odisha’s Koraput district.

In presence of Andhra electoral officials, the voting began at 6.00 AM in five villages of Kotia clusters. The villages include Madkar, Daliamba, Barnapadu, Patusineri and Konadara. The voters were seen in a long queue in the morning to cast their votes even after efforts by Potangi block development officer (BDO) and tehsildar to convince the villagers not to participate in the electoral process.

The Andhra Pradesh government had deployed security personnel at the polling stations. According to sources, the polls began at 6 AM and continued till 3 PM.

On Friday, Koraput collector Abdaal Akhtar had written to his Vizianagaram counterpart appealing not to conduct the elections in the disputed region of Kotia as the matter is currently sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

“I am to bring to your attention that in Contempt Petition No. 172/2021 arising out of Original Suit No. 10/1968 (The State of Odisha Vs. M.Hari Jawaharlal and Others), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has been pleased to issue notice to the State of Andhra Pradesh and post the case to Friday, the 19th February, 2021. In its oral observations, the Court has also observed that should the State of Andhra Pradesh go ahead with its plans as regards the subject mentioned above, necessary consequences will follow. The same was pronounced in the presence of counsel for the State of Andhra Pradesh. A copy of the associated case documents have been handed over to the counsel for the State of Andhra Pradesh,” the Collector wrote in the letter.

However, paying no attention to the request, the Andhra Pradesh government conducted the panchayat polls to claim its jurisdiction rights over Kotia.

Meanwhile, lashing out at the Odisha government for taking “lackadaisical” approach over the Andhra Pradesh government’s panchayat election exercise in Kotia, Odisha state BJP unit president Samir Mohanty on Saturday questioned state government’s intent on safeguarding the border.

Mohanty said the border villages not only in Kotia bust also in many other districts like Ganjam, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Gajapati were completely unsafe.

“Why has the state government moved the Supreme Court only on the Kotia issue? Why did it file the petition so late? Why does the state government keep the people in the dark? Is it a failure of the state's intelligence system?” Mr Mohanty asked.

People residing in border areas have developed weakness towards Andhra Pradesh despite having an emotional bond with Odisha. It is only because of the Odisha government’s lack of will for their development, Mohanty observed.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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