Decision on new panchayat poll schedule for cut-off areas after Jan 22: SEC secy

Malkangiri/Bhubaneswar: Secretary of the State Election Commission (SEC) Rabindra Sahu today said any decision on whether to announce a new panchayat poll schedule for cut-off areas of Malkangiri will be taken after a review on January 22.

Speaking to newsmen, Sahu said, “The nomination is left for another two days. Once the process gets over tomorrow, the SEC will take a decision after assessing the situation not only for Malkangiri, but other places as well where similar situation has occurred.”

He further added, “As per the current poll norms, if a nomination is not filed for any panchayat due to any reasons in the first phase, a new schedule is announced by the SEC. In case, all the nominations are rejected or withdrawn, a new schedule is also declared.”

Meanwhile, following issuance of a press release by CPI (Maoist) Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee yesterday asking people of the cut-off areas to boycott the ensuing panchayat polls in Odisha, political parties have asserted they would field poll candidates and undertake campaigning in the areas.

Also read: Maoists warn tribals to refrain from Panchayat Polls in Malkangiri

Manas Madakami, Malkangiri district BJD president, said, “As the party’s candidates are in fray for the panchayat polls, we will reach out the people of the localities and convince them to vote for us while telling about the BJD government’s programmes and achievements in past 17 years.”

Expressing similar views, Ashok Parida, district BJP president, said, “They (ultras) should not oppose the ensuing panchayat polls, if they want the benefit of the country and State. If people’s representatives get elected from the areas, they can present local issues before the district administration as well as the State government better and find a solution.”

Commenting on the threats issued by Maoists, Gobind Patra, district Congress president, said, “Like other political parties, Congress is also fielding its candidates for the forthcoming panchayat polls. Therefore, our party men will also visit the areas.”

Also read: 4 poll officials abducted, produced in Praja court by Maoists

Notably, Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee secretary Jagabandhu called for the panchayat poll boycott citing non-development in the areas in past 70 years and asked people to elect representatives in kangaroo courts, instead of participating in polls.

Jagabandhu also threatened if any political leaders come to the area to campaign, they will be sentenced in kangaroo courts.