With ‘go back Andhra’ slogan, Dharmendra Pradhan stands ground at Kotia

The union minister who last visited Kotia in 2018 had written to Andhra Pradesh CM in September 2021 to resolve the border dispute through talks with his counterpart in Odisha.

Published: 02nd April 2023 08:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2023 08:13 AM   |  A+A-

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan with local villagers after confronting officials of AP at Kotia, on Saturday | Express

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday drove away a team of Andhra Pradesh officials from the Kotia cluster of villages in what was a clear messaging that ingress by the neighbouring state will not be tolerated by Odisha.

Expressing his annoyance over the presence of Andhra Pradesh police, the union minister who was accompanied by five BJP MLAs asked them to leave as their presence within Odisha borders is not solicited.

“Why are you all here? The Kotia panchayat belongs to Odisha. Please go back. Go back Andhra,” Pradhan told the AP officials. He then raised the ‘Bande Utkal Janani’ slogan as locals gathered to take it to a feverish pitch forcing the two officials to beat a quick retreat.

After attending the Utkal Dibas programme organised by Kotia Gram Samiti, Pradhan said, “Today is an unforgettable day for me. It is not a day of conflict but a day of coming together of 4.5 crore Odia people. A day to make Odisha great and dream big for Odisha.”

Earlier, the union minister had decided to spend the Utkal Dibas at the Kotia cluster of villages. If Andhra Pradesh wants to redraw the border areas, Pradhan said, it will meet stiff opposition.

“We will not let the sacrifices of many great men like Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das, Utkalmani Gopbandhu Das, Maharaja Sriramchandra Bhanjadeo, Maharaja Krushnachandra Gajapati, Byasakabi Fakir Mohan Senapati, Kabibara Radhanath Ray and poet Gangadhar Meher go in vain.”

The union minister who last visited Kotia in 2018 had written to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in September 2021 to resolve the border dispute through talks with his counterpart in Odisha. This was followed by a meeting of the two chief ministers here in January last year.

Though the chief secretaries of the two states had a virtual meeting and decided to have a joint demarcation committee to define the border areas, nothing has come out of it yet.

Brahmagiri MLA Lalitendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, Loisingha MLA Mukesh Mahaling, Umerkote MLA Nityanand Gond, Badsahi MLA Sanatan Bijuli and Dhamnagar MLA Suryasbanshi Suraj joined the union minister during his Kotia visit.

India Matters


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