Two cards being displayed by the person in the picture are not just any cards.
Gamel Chenaya proudly flaunts two voter identity cards. One has enabled him to cast the ballot on Sunday for the civic elections in Salur block under Vizianagram district of Andhra Pradesh. With another, he will vote in the Koraput Lok Sabha constituency and Pottangi Assembly seat of Odisha on April 10.
That is not the end. Chenaya will again cast his vote on May 7 to elect the member of Parliament from Araku and the member of the state Assembly from Salur, both in Andhra Pradesh.
He is not alone. Nearly 10,000 voters in 30 villages located on the Andhra-Odisha border, a disputed zone about 110km from Koraput, have got two voter identity cards each. The region is claimed by both Odisha and Andhra. Both state governments have included the voters in their electoral rolls. Both are extending their welfare schemes to the villagers.
One such village is Tadibalsa, about 28km from the Salur block headquarters under Vizianagram district and 30km from the Pottangi block headquarters under Koraput district. Chenaya hails from Tadibalsa.
Walking down a narrow road, as one enters the village, there is a primary school, set up by the Andhra government. At the other end, there is another school, set up by Odisha.
All the 110 families have received BPL cards from Andhra Pradesh, while only 13 got them from Odisha. Each family gets 25kg of rice under the Public Distribution System from Odisha at Rs 1 per kg, and also gets 35kg of rice from Andhra Pradesh at the same price every month.
Each family gets a litre of edible oil at Rs 40 and 1kg of sugar at Rs 15 from Andhra Pradesh on a monthly basis.
“The Andhra Pradesh government is giving us more benefits. But we will vote at both places,” Chenaya said.
Another villager, Gangaraj, said they have been given voting rights in two states by the government agencies. If they skip one, it would be violation of their voting rights.
“The governments should settle the issue. Since they have given us cards to cast vote in both seats, we will do so,” he said.
The Odisha government has included this village under the Kotia panchayat, while Andhra Pradesh has included this village under Kurkuti panchayat.
While some families have got funds for construction of houses under the Indira Awas Yojana from Odisha, more have got houses under the same scheme from Andhra Pradesh.
There are 36 school-going children in the village. All of them go to the Andhra-run school. The medium of instruction is Telugu. The Odisha government school does not open except on August 15 and January 26, said V. Venkat Raman, another villager.
“The teachers do not come to the Odisha school. We send our children to the Andhra school. They get mid-day meal there,” he added.
Koraput votes on April 10