Ex-Koraput MP seeks Union Territory status for erstwhile Dandakaranya region
Former parliamentarian from Odisha’s Koraput Jayaram Pangi on Tuesday said he will quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to fight for conferment of Union Territory status to undivided Koraput district along with some portions of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Pangi, who joined the BJP in 2017 and lost the Lok Sabha polls from Koraput in 2019, said after remaining in politics for 44 years, he wanted to do some defining work for betterment of his native place and its people.
“I have been doing party politics for the last 44 years but in the dusk of life, I want to dedicate my time towards the greater development of undivided Koraput. The only way to resolve the issues is to accord Union Territory status to these areas for which I have formed the Dandakaranya Parbatmala Vikash Parishad,” Pangi said.
Koraput district was part of the Dandakaranya settlement project that began in September 1958 to rehabilitate those East Bengal migrants who could not be accommodated in West Bengal. Spread over an area of 80,000 square miles, the Dandakaranya Project also aimed to develop the tribal areas through construction of all-weather roads and railways, irrigation, agriculture and establishment of industries based on mineral and forest resources of the area. The first phase of the project was confined to the districts of Bastar in Chhatisgarh, undivided Koraput and Kalahandi districts of Odisha.
“The tribals of the undivided Koraput district living near the border areas of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are yet to see any development. Among other issues, these villages do not have road communication. Though I have raised their problems with the state government several times, I am told that I am doing it since I am a member of an opposition party. If this is the case, why should I remain in politics?” Pangi said.
Pangi’s demand for Union Territory status to the hilly region is being seen as an attempt to be politically relevant. He, however said he will seek support from all parties towards his new found cause.
A four-time MLA of Pottangi, Pangi was elected to the Parliament from Koraput Lok Sabha seat as a Biju Janata Dal candidate in the 2009 elections. However, after he was suspended, he quit the BJD in May 2017 and joined the BJP.