EC shunts out Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary

File photo of Anil Chandra Punetha, the outgoing Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh

In a major move just before elections, the Election Commission on Friday took state government chief secretary Anil Chandra Punetha (1984 batch) out of the election duties and appointed senior IAS officer L V Subrahmanyam (1983 batch) as the new chief secretary.

Subrahmanyam is the tenth accused in the Emaar Propoerties land deal investigated by the CBI. The EC directed that Punetha should not be given any responsibility related to elections. Subrahmanyam will take charge on Sunday. Andhra Pradesh is going to vote on April 11 in the first phase.

On Thursday, the EC summoned director general of police R P Thakur to Delhi before stripping him of the additional responsibilities of heading the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Prior to that the state intelligence chief A B Venkateswara Rao and superintendents of police of Srikakulam (Venkata Ratnam) and Kadapa (Rahul Dev Sharma) were transferred. The SPs were asked to report to the police headquarters and were kept away from election work.

Both the officers conveyed their protest to the EC for transferring them without citing grounds. The EC apparently took cognizance of the complaints made by YSR Congress Party demanding the replacement of DGP, intelligence chief and the two SPs. The axe fell on Anil Chandra Punetha after he cancelled the order of transfer of the intelligence chief. Sources say that it might have angered the EC.

Arguing that intelligence chief is not discharging any election-related work the state government filed a case in the high court challenging the EC order on Venkateswara Rao. However, after the HC did not grant any interim relief to the government, Venkateswara Rao was then transferred.

Let them arrest me: Naidu

Addressing a public meeting in Visakhapatnam on Friday, Chandrababu Naidu said "What else is left, let them also arrest me and put me behind bars. But they can’t intimidate me. We will continue fighting against Modi government,” Naidu said. Naidu contended that the EC was acting at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi only to benefit Y S Jaganmohan Reddy.

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