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Dilip Kumar

Parlakhemundi/Bhubaneswar: An Odia candidate has withdrawn nomination papers filed for the ensuing panchayat elections being conducted by Andhra Pradesh in bordering villages of Gajapati in Odisha.

Laxmi Sabar, a resident of Gangabada under Raigad block in Gajapati district had filed nominations for the post of ward member. However, he has withdrawn from the ongoing poll process much before the last date of withdrawal of nomination due to timely intervention of administrative officials.

Sources said the district administration has stepped up measures to keep Odia people away from the polls. On receiving information regarding Sabar's candidature, a team of senior officers from district administration held discussion and persuaded him to refrain from participating in the election.

On the other hand, the State government has braced to move the Supreme Court, challenging Andhra Pradesh's announcement for Panchayat polls in bordering villages at Kotia in Koraput.

The government will hold a crucial discussion with the Advocate General today in presence of Koraput Collector, ADM, panchayat officials from Kotia and legal experts.

The State will produce documents in the apex court over State formation, border demarcation of 1955 and elections to local bodies.

Odisha claimed that Andra Pradesh has taken unilateral decision on panchayat poll even as the border dispute involving Kotia is sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Revenue Minister Sudam Marndi said that State government has taken all possible measures for the development of Kotia. "The government is aware of polls announced by Andhra Pradesh. We are doing our best for the development of Kotia. We have schools, Anganwadi centres, hospitals and other government institutes there. To further strengthen the infrastructure, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has inaugurated and laid stone of a slew of welfare projects three days ago," Marndi said.

It is worth mentioning that Kotia dispute is a long pending border issue between Andhra Pradhesh and Odisha. Both the States have been claiming sovereignty over the area, which consist of 27 small tribal hamlets on the border.

Andhra Pradesh is holding Panchayat elections in three villages-Talaganjeipadar, Phatuseneri and Phagunaseneri of Kotia on February 13 and 17. The process for filing of nomination papers concluded on Thursday.

The neighbouring State has listed these three villages under Salur Mandal in Vizianagaram district.

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