Expresses concern at the weakening of local bodies in Odisha’s Malkangiri district

Expressing concern at the weakening of local bodies in Odisha’s Maoist-affected Malkangiri district, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has requested Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to address the problems of village leaders to combat left-wing extremism.

“My belief has always been that local body elections are an essential first step in the process of political dialogue, reconciliation and settlement as far as the Maoist issue is concerned,” said Mr. Ramesh in a letter addressed to Mr. Patnaik, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.

In his letter, Mr. Ramesh referred to the large scale collective resignations of nearly 60 village-level leaders, including ward members, sarpanch and panchayat samiti members, who are protesting against the alleged failure of the State government to meet their demands on drinking water, irrigation and roads.

“Having travelled extensively in the State, I can say that Malkangiri does not appear to be an exception. I have been to Malkangiri myself, stayed there and have met with the elected representatives. Their complaints and demands are genuine,” Mr. Ramesh said.

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