JEYPORE: In a show of unity, leaders of BJD, BJP and Congress on Tuesday decided to launch a campaign in all 28 villages of the disputed Kotia panchayat to dissuade locals from participating in the mandal and zilla parishad elections announced by Andhra Pradesh on April 8.
At an all-party meeting chaired by district BJD president Ishwar Panigrahi in Koraput, leaders of the three political outfits came down heavily on AP government’s move to hold polls in bordering Kotia under Pottangi block. In a bid to persuade the villagers to boycott the polls, it was decided that BJD, BJP and Congress will start a campaign in the panchayat from Wednesday.
The leaders criticised AP for transgressing its authority once again even as the matter is already in the Supreme Court (SC). Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “Kotia is not AP’s ancestral property. Repeated infiltration bids will not be tolerated.” Bahinipati sought Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s immediate intervention in the matter.
Pottangi MLA Pitam Padhi appealed to all the political parties to stay united on the Kotia issue. He proposed to form an all-party committee which would focus on development of the bordering panchayats in the district.
It was also proposed in the meeting that a high-level judicial team headed by a Supreme Court justice should visit the bordering panchayat for a reality check. Besides, an all-party team should also meet AP Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan in this regard.
Among others, Koraput MLA Raghuram Padal, Laxmipur legislator Prabhu Jani, former MLA Gupta Prasad Dash, ex-MP Jayaram Pangi and BJP leader Goutam Samantray were present.
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 that polls would be conducted on April 8 and results declared on April 10. Collector Md Abdaal Akhtar and SP Varun Guntupalli had visited Kotia on Monday to assess the situation on ground.
Meanwhile, Odisha has decided to file a fresh suit against AP in the apex court as tension at the border escalated.