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Kotia: A Tale of Two Votes and Two States

In the remote hills on the Andhra-Odisha border lies the cluster of Kotia, comprising 21 disputed villages with a population of over 5,000 residents. Here, a unique electoral phenomenon unfolds, where residents can potentially cast four votes — two for each state and two for the Centre — due to overlapping jurisdictions.

Dual Voting Rights

The upcoming elections in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha present a rare opportunity for Kotia’s residents. Falling under the Koraput Lok Sabha constituency in Odisha and the Araku Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh, these villages are poised to participate in both states’ electoral processes.

The Quirks of Dual Citizenship

Residents proudly display their dual voter ID cards, one for each state, allowing them to vote multiple times on polling day. Despite the unusual circumstances, local officials seem unperturbed, as both states continue to provide benefits and services to the residents.

Infrastructure vs. Welfare

Both states are actively engaging with Kotia’s residents, with Odisha focusing on infrastructure development and Andhra Pradesh emphasizing welfare schemes. The competition between the two states is evident in the amenities and services they provide to win the loyalty of the villagers.

A Decades-Long Dispute

The boundary dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha over these villages has persisted since British rule, with no immediate resolution in sight. The Supreme Court has been seized of the matter since 1968, but a definitive decision remains elusive.

While many villagers seem content with the dual benefits, some advocate for a resolution to the long-standing dispute. They urge both governments to engage in dialogue and reach a mutually acceptable solution to put an end to the ambiguity over Kotia’s allegiance.

Political Maneuvering

Occasional tensions arise when political leaders from both states visit the area, trying to sway the sentiments of the tribal population. Recent incidents, including slogans and objections raised by leaders, highlight the sensitivities surrounding the territorial dispute.

Amidst the Political Fray

Despite the political dynamics, Kotia remains a tranquil place, far removed from the chaos of election campaigns. The peaceful coexistence of the residents, their abstention from alcohol, and the absence of recent FIRs reflect the harmonious nature of the community.

As Kotia prepares for the upcoming elections, it stands as a microcosm of India’s diverse democracy, where unique challenges and complexities shape the electoral landscape. While the villagers navigate the dualities of their existence, the unresolved boundary dispute continues to linger, awaiting a definitive resolution.

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