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War veteran aims at a hat-trick in Odisha rural polls

I had facilitated pucca road connectivity and drinking water supply to gram panchayat during the decade-long stint as Sarpanch.

Statesman News Service | BHUBANESWAR |

A Bangladesh war hero in the twilight of his life has jumped into panchayat polls bandwagon and is trying out his electoral luck to achieve a hat-trick in the Sarpanch post in Barunadia Gram Panchayat of Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district.

The war veteran Duryodhan Mohanty (72), banking on people’s support, is optimistic of making it a hat-trick in the upcoming rural body polls.

Mohanty, who filed his nomination papers on Friday, had come out successful in the festival of democracy at the grass-root level in 2007 and 2012 panchayat polls. In the 2017 GP polls, he could not contest as his native panchayat was reserved for scheduled caste candidates.

In 2002, I returned to the village after serving in the Indian Army for three decades to lead a peaceful life amidst idyllic rural surroundings. The contesting in the polls was entirely foreign to me. The local residents prevailed upon me to contest in the polls. With people reposing trust in me, I won two polls in a row to clean the system in a small way in my Gram Panchayat, Mohanty said.

I had facilitated pucca road connectivity and drinking water supply to gram panchayat during the decade-long stint as Sarpanch.

Mohanty took part in the Bangladesh liberation War of 1971, by putting his life on the line to fight against the Pakistani army.

Mohanty joined the armed forces in 1970 at the age of 20. During his three-decade-long career, he served the Indian army in Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, Kanpur, Kashmir, Pune. He also participated in Operation Meghdoot of Indian Armed Forces’ operation to seize control of the Siachen Glacier in Kashmir in 1984. After his retirement in 2002, he settled in his village.

Mohanty is also spearheading the Kharosotra River Banchao Sangram Samiti, the outfit which is opposing the Rs 754 crores proposed mega drinking water project tooth and nail. Locals in these areas firmly believe that the diversion of Kharasrota river water for supplying piped water to neighbouring Bhadrak district is a conspiracy to protect the interest of industrial houses including Dhamara private port.