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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the disputed Kotia Gram Panchayat is all set to go to polls on February 18, nomination of two independent candidates have threatened to disrupt the consensus candidate-equation prepared by the three major parties to thwart any possible ploy by Andhra Pradesh to meddle in the Panchayat polls in the region.

The independent candidates – Tikai Gemel who is a dissident from the Congress party, and another candidate, Sabina Burdia, filed their nomination papers at the sub-collector’s office on January 21 from the Pottangi Zone-1 Zilla Parishad under Kotia GP.

However, with just a day to go before the deadline of nomination withdrawal ends, the tension on the leaders of three political parties, BJD, BJP and Congress who have fielded a consensus candidate for the Zone, could be seen going up to a boiling point.

All the equations set up to keep the Andhra Pradesh administration away from sabotaging the election in Kotia, seem to have fallen flat with the filling of nomination by these two independent candidates.

So much so that, despite multiple rounds of discussions with the party leaders, these two candidates has shown no signs of withdrawing their papers.

Speaking to reporters, Gemel said, “The villagers want me to win the election. They are all rallying behind me. There is no question of withdrawng my nomination papers.I will fight this election and win it too,” she asserted.

Ishwar Panigrahi, local BJD leader, said, “We are in discussion with these candidates. I am hope full of arriving at a mutual understanding by today or tomorrow.”

Similarly, BJP’s Jayaram Pangi said, “We have still a day to sort this out. The consensus candidate will definitely win the election.”

Mamata Jani, a graduate frim Thuria village has filed nomination papers for Zilla parishad member post as unanimously decided by the three major political parties - BJD, BJP and Congress.

Jani was selected as the consensus candidate as she has no links with any party nor is she a relative of any political leader of Koraput. Jani said she will not exercise her voting right in case of a tie while forming the ZP council.

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.

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