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Four Candidates File Nomination for 'Auctioned' Sarpanch Post, Consensus Candidate for Kotia Region

There have been several flare-ups last year over the ownership of 21 of the 28 villages under Kotia gram panchayat, which is claimed by both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. (Image: News18/File)

There have been several flare-ups last year over the ownership of 21 of the 28 villages under Kotia gram panchayat, which is claimed by both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. (Image: News18/File)

The three parties had decided to field a consensus candidate in order to thwart any attempt by Andhra Pradesh to meddle in the panchayat elections in Kotia gram panchayat in Odisha.

At least four candidates filed their nomination papers for the alleged ”auctioned” sarpanch post of Bileisarada gram panchayat in Odisha’s Bolangir district. Apart from Susant Chhatria, who had reportedly won the bid by promising to pay Rs 44,000 for the development of the Jagannath temple at the village under Puintala block, his nephew, Bilasini Sharma and Prabhudutta Panda have also filed their nomination papers.

Following media report of the alleged ”auction” of sarpanch post at Bileisarada gram panchayat, Odisha’s State Election Commissioner AP Padhi on Thursday had asked the Bolangir Collector to ensure that no willing person is obstructed from filing nomination papers for the post of sarpanch. Chhatri claimed that he own the bidding and agreed to pay Rs 44,000 if he wins the elections uncontested. He said money would be spent for the development of the Jagannath temple at the village. The auction was done at a meeting attended by the heads of three villages – Bandanakata, Kasurpali, and Bileisarda – at the Jagannath temple where the alleged bidding took place.

Meanwhile, in Koraput district, as unanimously decided by three major political parties – BJD, BJP and Congress – consensus candidate Mamata Jani, a graduate of Thuria village has filed nomination papers for Zilla parishad member post in the election to Kotia panchayat. Jani was selected by ruling BJD and opposition BJP and Congress for the post. She filed her papers at the sub-collector’s office on the last day of filing nominations on Friday.

The three parties had decided to field a consensus candidate in order to thwart any attempt by Andhra Pradesh to meddle in the panchayat elections in Kotia gram panchayat. Though the parties had decided to select consensus candidates for different posts instead of going for elections, two other candidates, one of them being a dissident Congress leader and another person have also filed nomination for the Zilla Parishad member post as Independent candidates.

It was also decided that the candidate selected for any post will resign from respective party. Jani was selected as the consensus candidate as she has no links with any party nor is she a relative of any political leaders of Koraput. Jani said she will not exercise her voting right in case of a tie while forming the ZP council.

The objective of putting consensus candidates in Kotia area was basically to stop neighbouring Andhra Pradeh’s interference in the Odisha’s panchayat elections. There are more than 5,000 eligible voters in 13 wards of 28 revenue villages and 12 other villages in Kotia panchayat which will go to the polls on February 18.

The dispute over the ownership of 21 of the 28 villages under Kotia gram panchayat had first reached the Supreme Court in 1968. In 2006, the apex court held that inter-state boundaries did not fall within its jurisdiction and only Parliament could resolve them, as it imposed a permanent injunction on the disputed area. In August last year, the Odisha government deployed police and erected barricades in Kotia after the Andhra Pradesh administration attempted to launch several schemes in the area. The southern state had announced the results of the panchayat polls it held in Kotia.

There have been several flare-ups last year over the ownership of 21 of the 28 villages under Kotia gram panchayat, which is claimed by both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

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first published:January 22, 2022, 15:16 IST