Patrapur: Even as the Ganjam district administration claimed to have taken steps to prevent residents in bordering villages of this block from voting in panchayat elections of Andhra Pradesh, their plans were frustrated when people voted in the elections, Saturday.
Conscious of the district administration’s plan, the candidates conducted meetings in the villages Friday night and arranged buses and tractors so that the voters could travel to the booths in Talguranthi and vote in the election. Many of the residents even did not put indelible ink on their fingers so as not to get caught by the district officials in Ganjam.
Several people from Kuladi, Satapuri, Gudikhala, Badanasahi, Banjuasahi and Tumba villages visited pooling booths across the border in the wee hours of Saturday and returned home after casting their votes before the arrival of district officials in the area.
The Patrapur block and tehsil officials had launched an awareness programme ‘Mo Gaonre Tehsil’ ‘Mo Nibedan’ and public hearing camp in five villages on the fringes of Andhra Pradesh after media reports claimed that the residents of Tumba, Duratal and Gudipadar panchayats voting in the panchayat election of the neighbouring state in exchange of various welfare benefits. Notably, two days back, the villagers had given in writing to the district administration not to participate in the panchayat elections.
As a result, the district administration’s tall claims of not allowing people to vote in the panchayat elections were frustrated as several residents voted in the elections.
When questioned by the district officials, many claimed innocence and showed their fingers without ink mark. However, some of them were honest to show their ink marked fingers.
Sibaram Sabar of Kuladi village and Kundari Sabar of Satapuri village alleged that the state government has been neglecting them while the Andhra government is home-delivering them with pension, rations and providing good education to their children, power connection to villages and healthcare facilities. Some even went on to allege that the district officials and public representatives only visit their villages and make tall promises but never implementing them.
Moreover, the attempt by the district administration of neighbouring Gajapati to prevent the residents of disputed Gudikhala village in Duratal panchayat from voting in Andhra election was also frustrated after over 30 people were found to have voted in the polls.
Ganjam sub-collector accompanied by Patrapur tehsildar Amit Kumar Nayak, Raigad (Gajapati) tehsildar Leelabati Achari visited the village but the villagers escaped through their backyard and boarded a tractor to vote in the election.
The Andhra government has renamed the village as Gudikhudi and provided houses to the residents under Indira Awas Yojana. The neighbouring state has also built an Anganwadi centre in the village and providing allowances, pensions and even financial assistance to the residents after Titili cyclone while construction of a drinking water project is underway. ‘The Patrapur block officials even conducted a ‘Mo Nibedan’ programme on a mandap constructed by the Andhra government.