Andhra Pradesh (AP) government’s panchayat elections are already underway. The neighouring state has succeeded in wooing away the local people to participate in the elections. Many of them have already got elected unopposed.
The launch of the panchayat election process by the AP government was known to the Odisha government soon after the dates were announced on January 23, 2012. First phase of election was held on February 5, second phase on February 9, third phase on February 13 and the fourth phase on February 14. This news was aired by all electronic media and published in the newspapers. The state government did not act in time and woke up from its slumber after the Opposition and common people questioned its silence.
On February 9 , the very first day of panchayat polls, the Odisha government Odisha government asked the Advocate on Record (AOR) in Delhi- Sibo Sankar Mishra - to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court against Andhra Pradesh’s announcement for panchayat polls at three villages of Kotia. The state government’s move clearly revealed its ‘non-seriousness.’ It needs to explain why it was dithering since January 23.
The state government has its own system of information gathering and intelligence input collections. The district collectors know from intelligence sources what is happening and where in their respective jurisdiction. How come they missed the AP’s move? Why and how did such a vital development escape their scanning? It escaped deliberately or accidentally inadvertently?
In the Constitution of Orissa Order, 1936 published in The Gazette of India on March 19, 1936, Kotia villages were recognised as part of the new state. However, during survey, of the 28 Kotia villages 21 were not mistakenly surveyed. Similarly, after the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1995, the same 21 villagers were not mistakenly surveyed. Hence, the 21 villagers plunged into a perennial conflict between the state states. But as per the 1936 notification of Government of India, the Kotia villages belong to Odisha. The state government, like any other villages, has been carrying out development activities in these 21 villages.
Why did the residents of Kotia villages get inclined to AP? The answer is simple: Utter Neglect. The local tehsildar post was lying vacant for long. The Kotia Outpost was shifted to Pottangi in 2004 following Maoist threat. For nearly 500 students, there were not required number teachers. Besides, AP delivered public services at the doorsteps where as Odisha’s local administrative officials allegedly cooled their heels in the comfort of their office buildings.
The old age and widow pensions provided by the AP government are much higher than that of the Odisha government’s.
Protesting Andhra Pradesh’s continuous encroachment after its formation in 1995, the Odisha government in December 1968 had gone to the Supreme Court. The matter is still sub-judice.
The election of the new panchayat representatives will surely help Andhra Pradesh government make its claim stronger on the disputed villages. Had the Odisha government gone to the court soon after the election dates were announced, Odisha would have enjoyed a better position.
The effectiveness of the assertion by ruling BJD leaders that chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s recent announcement of Rs 18 crore package and previous sanction of Rs 150 will deter the local residents from siding with Andhra Pradesh will be known when the final hearing takes place in the Supreme Court.