Bhubaneswar, Feb 16 (PTI) A senior BJD leader on Tuesday joined the opposition in blaming Odisha's Koraput district administration for 'failing to win the confidence' of the people in the Kotia cluster of villages, who participated in rural elections of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh on February 13.
Khandapada MLA S R Patnaik, also the son-in-law of former Congress chief minister J B Patnaik, said he does not hesitate to call a spade a spade.
'I am not the person to tell that everything is right in the administration as I belong to the BJD. The issue could have been resolved much earlier if efforts were made at the grassroots level.
'Just because I am in the ruling party, I will not defend it blindly,' Patnaik, a BJD vice-president, told reporters on the Assembly premises while undergoing COVID-19 test ahead of the budget session starting on February 18.
He alleged there was negligence on the part of the administrative machinery at the district level.
'Though it is late, the government is braced to fight over the issue,' he said.
Noting that the border row is a long-standing issue, the senior BJD leader said that many other states have similar problems.
Leader of Congress Legislature Party, Narasingha Mishra, claimed that his earlier statement has been vindicated by Patnaik's comments.
'The BJD leader's statement has proved that we were right. I thank him for accepting the government's negligence.
He should raise the issue in the ensuing budget session of the Assembly,' Mishra said.
Koraput's Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka alleged that the BJD government has ignored the peoples' representatives from the area on the Kotia issue.
'Though the government moved the Supreme Court, it did not prefer to consult with the local MLAs and MP. This issue can be resolved with the cooperation of all,' he said.
Ulaka claimed that though he had earlier attempted to hold meetings in the Kotia cluster of villages, the administration had not permitted him to do so on the grounds of security.
'When I wanted to meet the people of Kotia who had voted for the Congress in the 2019 elections, the administration allowed us to hold a meeting at Pottangi instead of in the Kotia area,' he said.
Former Koraput MP and BJP leader Jayram Pangi blamed the chief minister for 'lack of interest' in resolving the issue.
'As the government ignored the people, they participated in the Andhra polls,' Pangi said.
Andhra Pradesh held rural elections in the Kotia region, disputed between the two states, despite the Koraput district collector's request to his Vizianagaram counterpart against it as the matter is sub-judice.
The state government has moved the Supreme Court challenging Andhra Pradesh's State Election Commission notifying rural polls in Odisha territory by defying the apex court's order to maintain the status quo in the disputed area of Kotia. PTI AAM ACD ACD