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Panchayat Poll Violence: YSRCP members attack TDP’s candidate

Reports of pre-poll violence have come to the fore in Manikpatana village of Rayagada block in Odisha. While the State Election Commission has been trying to keep Odisha citizens from participating in the polls, this incident of violence has rattled the state.
 
Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-backed ward member candidate Draupadi Sabar was attacked in Manikpatana on Sunday. Draupadi filed her nomination for ward member of Saba panchayat which falls on Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB). She suspects YSRCP supporters’ involvement in the attack on her as well as the family members. The attackers vandalised her vehicle too.
 
On being informed about the incident, the Gajapati district administration reportedly took steps to provide protection to Odisha residents residing in the bordering villages. 
 
Earlier, one Laxmi Sabar had withdrawn her nomination and promised not to participate in the AP polls after being persuaded by the district administration. Backed by YSRCP, she had filed her nominations for the post of ward member in Sabakota panchayat under Manjusha in AP. Sources said the attack on Draupadi was a reaction to withdrawal of nomination papers by Laxmi. 
 
The AP government has announced three-tier panchayat elections in several villages of Gajapati and Ganjam districts in open violation of an agreement signed between the two states in 2019. Prior to the last general elections, a meeting was held between Collectors of bordering districts of both the states. The AP administration had signed an agreement stating that it will neither set up any booth in Odisha territory nor include any person from the State as its voter.
 
Suggesting legal action against AP administration for illegally conducting elections in Odisha villages, former chairman of Ganjam Bar Association and senior advocate Bhagaban Sahu said the Odisha government should knock the doors of court before February  13, the scheduled date for rural polls.
 
A separate Odisha State was formed in 1936 while Andhra Pradesh came into being after a boundary committee submitted its report in 1955. When AP tried to take control of some bordering villages of Odisha in 1968, the State government moved the Supreme Court. The apex court directed the two states to maintain status quo and mutually resolve any such dispute in future. 
 
While these villages and their fate for voting still lies in limbo, the poll violence continues to rage every time there is an election. 

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