MALKANGIRI: At least 21 candidates from the erstwhile cut-off region of Swabhiman Anchal, once a Maoist hotbed, filed their nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections in Chitrakonda block on Wednesday.
Of the nine panchayats in Swabhiman Anchal, Dhuliput witnessed the highest of five candidates filing nominations for ward member posts, one for samiti member and another for sarpanch.
Similarly, three candidates filed papers for ward member and one for samiti member post in Badpadar panchayat. Candidates also filed nomination for various posts in Jodamaba, Gajalmamudi, Papermetla and Ralegada panchayats.
Surprisingly, a villager of Jantri panchayat, which still remains cut-off from the rest of Swabhiman Anchal, filed nomination for sarpanch post.
While the Border Security Force (BSF) is present in eight panchayats of Gajalmamudi, Jodamba, Panasput, Papermetla, Ralegada, Dhuliput, Badpadar and Andrapalli, Jantri bordering Andhra Pradesh is yet to get security cover.
Block sources said no nomination was filed from Panasput and Andrapalli panchayats. Panchayat elections will be held in Swabhiman Anchal after more than 10 years.
The entire region had been a Naxal hotbed for decades, depriving people of their voting rights and participation in the democratic process. The situation has changed following a drastic improvement in the security scenario and fast-paced developmental activities including opening of the Gurupriya bridge in the last few years.
Swabhiman Anchal has a population of 31,730 of whom 18,989 are registered voters. The region will go to the polls on February 24. Sources said amid deployment of the BSF and strict vigil by district police, both villagers and political leaders are showing a keen interest to participate in the rural polls.