JEYPORE: Even as ripples of recent panchayat polls conducted by Andhra Pradesh in Kotia are yet to settle, the neighbouring state’s move announcing mandal and zilla parishad elections in Kotia under Pottangi block here has put the Koraput district administration on alert. Koraput Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar and SP Varun Guntupalli, on Monday, rushed to the panchayat to review the ground situation.
On April 1, the AP State Election Commission had issued an order directing the Vizianagaram district administration to hold zilla and mandal parishad elections in Odisha’s Kotia panchayat. The order stated conduct of polls on April 8 and declaration of results on April 10. Kotia panchayat comprises 28 villages. In the notification for the recent panchayat polls, AP had included Talaganjeipadar, Phatuseneri and Phagunaseneri villages under Salur block in Vizianagaram district.
As news of the elections spread, political leaders denounced AP’s move and urged the district administration to take immediate action in this regard. Former MP Jayaram Pangi said, “Kotia is ours. I will extend all support to the administration to help prevent the elections from taking place.” Convenor of ‘Ama Kotia Sangathan’ Gadadhar Parida echoed similar sentiments while district BJD president Iswar Panigrahi said the government has realigned its focus on Kotia and authorities are monitoring development work in the disputed area.
The officials said higher-ups in Bhubaneswar are being updated on all developments. “The legal route will be taken in the Kotia issue,” Akhtar said. In February, the AP government, in an act of transgression of authority, had announced panchayat elections in Phatuseneri, Talaganjeipadar and Phagunaseneri by including the bordering villages of Koraput in its Salur block of Vizianagaram district. The inter-State border dispute has now reached the doors of the Supreme Court with Odisha challenging AP’s territorial claims. With escalating tension at the border, the State government has decided to file a fresh suit in this regard.