October 29, 2020

Santosh Patnaik
Visakhapatnam: Even as the State is battling to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under check, the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and the Opposition parties are engaged in a wordy duel over the move to hold local body elections in Andhra Pradesh.
The meeting convened by State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to hold a consultation with the recognised parties triggered a fresh political storm with the YSRCP abstaining from the meeting stating that pandemic time is not conducive to conduct polls.

The SEC decision to put off polls when the nomination process was in progress in mid-March led to bitter criticism by the ruling party leaders. Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had also lodged a strong protest after calling on Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan in Vijayawada.

Later by promulgating an Ordinance the tenure of SEC was slashed from five to three years leading to removal of Ramesh Kumar, a retired IAS officer who was recruited during the tenure of N. Chandrababu Naidu as CM, from the constitutional post.

YSRCP spokesman and MLA Ambati Rambabu said that Ramesh Kumar had put off elections when the State had reported just three Corona positive cases as against all India figure of 93 in March due to “instructions from his appointee Chandrababu Naidu who led the Telugu Desam Party Government during 2014-2019.

Now the State is recording 3,000 from 10,000 cases per day when the pandemic had peaked some time ago, he said.

A team of IAS officers led by Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney met SEC on Wednesday and told him that now the time is not ripe to conduct elections due to threat of spike in Corona cases.

On the other hand, main opposition TDP demanded the cancellation of notification issued earlier and go ahead with fresh elections. When Mr. Ramesh Kumar deferred the polls, the ruling party nominees were declared unopposed in several Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies and Zilla Parishad Milam Territorial Constituencies.

SEC got a favourable order from AP High Court for his reinstatement and the Governor issued an order on his reappointment after the Supreme Court refused to intervene in response to an appeal filed by the State Government.

Meanwhile, TDP State president K. Atchan Naidu said the ruling party should refrain from the interfering in the independent functioning of SEC.

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