Sharmili Mallick

The residents of Swabhiman Anchal, once called the cut-off region of Malkangiri district, have not been able to vote for almost one-and-a-half decades. The area was partially under the control of the Maoists and few had the courage to defy the diktat against participating in the elections.

But this year, there is optimism in the people of the Swabhiman Anchal for the ensuing panchayat polls. Not only the candidates but also the voters have also come up with enthusiasm to take part in the rural polls.

While candidates have been actively engaged in campaigning activities while adhering to the Covid protocols laid down by the State Election Commission (SEC), people of the region are awaiting for the D-day to exercise their franchise.

Rajeswari Khilar, a candidate for Samiti Sabhya of Jodamba panchayat assert, “Though the Odisha Government has started several welfare projects in our region, still there are many aspects which are to be developed. Many villages are yet to get road, health, drinking and electricity facilities. If I win the polls, I will work for the development on these areas.”

Balram Golari, a sarpanch candidate of Gajalmamudi panchayat said, “As the region was dominated by the Maoists, elections were not conducted here earlier and the people were unaware of the poll process. But now, people are happy and excited as they will be taking part in the rural polls this time. I will try to apprise the government about the basic issues faced by the people in the region if I am voted to power by the residents of the panchayat.”

Once a Naxal hotbed, the situation in Swabhiman Anchal changed after the deployment of BSF and police in various places of the area. Besides, several developmental activities including the opening of the Gurupriya bridge in the last few years also brought a ray of hope for the people of the cut-off region of Malkangiri district.

People of nine panchayats of Swabhiman Anchal under the Chitrakonda block of the district will cast vote and elect their representatives on February 24.

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