KORAPUT: In a show of unanimity, political parties of Odisha have decided to select consensus candidates for the posts of zilla parishad, sarpanch, samiti and ward members instead of going to the polls in the disputed Kotia panchayat amid infringement attempts of Andhra Pradesh.
The decision was taken at the all-party committee meeting at Koraput on Thursday. Leaders of all the three major parties, BJD, BJP and Congress decided to unanimously select candidates for the posts ahead of the upcoming panchayat elections.
The meeting also decided that all candidates for the posts will be selected from Kotia panchayat. The selection will be done by January 25. The candidates will be selected unopposed and uncontested. Moreover, the selected candidates will have no political affiliation. The selected ZP member will look after the political and administrative activities in Kotia.
Convenor of the meeting and district BJD president Iswhar Chandra Panigrahi said all political parties have joined forces to prevent Andhra Pradesh government from creating disturbances in Kotia. "Let Andhra Pradesh know the unity of the parties in State irrespective of political affiliations," he said.
District Congress committee president Minakhi Bahinipati said all parties have been fighting for the cause of Kotia irrespective of their ideologies. "Our main aim is to protect Kotia from Andhra Pradesh's incursion and development of the panchayat by selecting candidates in a united manner," she added.
Welcoming the decision, former MP and senior BJP leader Jayram Pangi said the decision of political parties to select consensus candidates in Kotia will give a strong message to the Andhra Pradesh government. "Our motherland comes first and political affiliations later," he added.
The district administration will hold polls for one samiti member, one sarpanch and 13 ward member posts in the disputed panchayat on February 18. The ZP election of Kotia which falls under Zone 1 under Pottangi block will also be held the same day.
So far, eight candidates have filed nominations for ward member, six for sarpanch and one for samiti member posts in Kotia.
Official sources said there are 5,197 registered voters in the panchayat. Among others, Pottangi MLA Pritam Padhi, Koraput legislator Raghuram Padal, district BJP general secretary Purnima Nayak and Congress leader Jagdish Khosla were present at the meeting. In February last year, AP had held rural polls in Kotia sparking off widespread resentment in the State.