Villagers vote twice in 2 states

Villagers vote twice in 2 states

About five thousand people in a cluster of 21 villages located on the borders of two states of Odisha and Seemandhra(part of undivided Andhra Pradesh) perhaps are the only citizens in the country who get an opportunity to vote twice during this election season for candidates of two different states.

Polling booths were opened in these “disputed” villages in tribal dominated Koraput district when the first phase of elections were held in Odisha on April 10. The polling arrangements were made by the Koraput district administration.  And the voters’ turn out was 60 per cent to elect representatives for the Koraput Lok Sabha and the Potangi Assembly constituencies.

Similar arrangements were made from the Seemandhra side in these villages for Wednesday’s voting in the newly created southern state to elect an MP from Vijayanagaram Lok Sabha constituency and the Palur Ássembly seat. The percentage of voters’ turn out is not yet known.

This is, however, not for the first time such arrangements had been made in these disputed areas widely known as “Kotia” villages to give the people opportunities two vote twice. Similarly arrangements had been made during the 2009 general elections as well as elections to the state assemblies of both Odisha and the erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh. The same had been done during local Panchayat elections too.
Interestingly, electorates of these disputed villages have reportedly been enrolled in the voters’ list of both the states. Many of them also hold two voters’ identity cards. When asked, officials in the state CEO(Chief Election Officer)’s office here conceded that the electorates in these disputed villages could be holding two voters’ identity cards which is illegal.

However, they insisted that residents of villages located in the borders of two states acquiring two voters’ identity card was nothing unusual. “There are many instances of villagers in border areas possessing two voters’ identity cards of neighbouring states”, said an official in the CEO’s office.

Sources in the Koraput district administration said, an officer had been deputed to keep a close watch on the activities in these disputed villages during the voting on Wednesday. “A block development officer (BDO) and his team have been asked to keep a vigil and submit a report to the district administration which will be forwarded to the state government subsequently,” said a Koraput district official.

Both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh had been fighting to establish their claim over these villages since decades. In fact, a case in this regard is pending before the Supreme Court since 1966. The legal battle over these border villages is now expected to be fought between the Odisha government and the government of residual state of Andhra Pradesh.

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