By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, February 18, 2021: Opposition BJP and Congress in Odisha walked out from the Assembly over Governor’s speech which did not have any mention of the border dispute with Andhra Pradesh.

Governor Ganeshi Lal began his speech on the first day of the Budget session amid protest by BJP and Congress legislators over the border dispute with Andhra Pradesh and deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

The boycott of opposition leaders of the Governor’s address came a day before the SC is supposed to hear the contempt of court petition of Odisha government against Andhra Pradesh government over the latter holding panchayat polls in one of the villages of Kotia gram panchayat in Koraput district. On February 13, over 80 per cent of the 1,025 voters of Patusinri village under Kotia gram panchayat in Koraput district had voted for electing the sarpanch of Pattuchennuru gram panchayat of Andhra Pradesh.

Leader of Opposition (LoP) and BJP leader Pradipta Naik said it was a matter of great concern that Andhra Pradesh attacked the sovereignty of Odisha by forcibly conducting panchayat polls in Odisha.

“Nothing can be more serious than Andhra Pradesh opening schools, disbursing monthly pension to different categories of people, collecting electricity charges and land cess from the people of Odisha. This is happening because of the inefficiency of Odisha government. On the other hand, the government is saying it is a healthy government. How can the state remain healthy when a part of it is being carved out?,” Naik said, who on Wednesday had written a letter to chief minister Naveen Patnaik demanding setting up of a cluster development authority for Kotia group of villages.

Leader of Congress legislature party Narasingha Mishra said Andhra Pradesh conducting panchayat polls in Odisha has proved that the Naveen Patnaik government was an inefficient one. “Naveen Patnaik has been ruling the state for last 20 years and yet his administration had no clue about Andhra Pradesh encroaching into Odisha territory,” he said.

Officials, meanwhile, said the Andhra Pradesh government in its affidavit before the SC has said that there is no question of contempt by Andhra Pradesh as it is holding Lok Sabha, Assembly and panchayat polls in the three villages of Kotia – Talaganjeipadar, Phagunseneri and Patusinri.

“The AP government in its affidavit has said that in 2006 and 2013, panchayat elections were held in those three villages. The Andhra Pradesh government stated it has been duly administrating its own territories and has not infringed upon Odisha’s territory. The villages come under Araku Parliamentary Constituency and in Saluru Assembly Constituency in Andhra,” said a state government official.

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