Andhra Pradesh Panchayat polls planned in February: SEC

Andhra Pradesh Panchayat polls planned in February: State election commissioner

The Panchayat and municipal body polls, scheduled originally in March 2020, were suspended by the SEC pointing to the Covid-19 spread in the state

Credit: AFP file photo.

The Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner has stated that the Panchayat polls in the state are planned to take place in February.

Ramesh Kumar, the SEC, said that the commission is encouraged by the success of Covid-19 containment measures in AP, “whereby daily infections after touching a high of 10,000 cases have drastically come down to a low of 753 as today (Monday).”

However, on Tuesday, 1,395 new cases were registered, when 66,778 samples were tested. 753 cases, the SEC quoted, were corresponding to only 43,044 samples tested on Sunday.

The Panchayat and municipal body polls, scheduled originally in March 2020, were suspended by Kumar in the wake of the Covid-19 spread in the state.

The SEC decision led to the removal of Kumar, a retired IAS officer, from the post in April by the Jaganmohan Reddy government. CM Reddy had then even accused the SEC as functioning unilaterally and in a partisan manner.

After a bitter legal confrontation which even reached the Supreme Court, Ramesh was reinstated in July on the directions of the Andhra Pradesh high court.

Interestingly, Kumar now attributes the significant fall of daily new Covid-19 cases to the "successful measures of Andhra Pradesh government," and dedication of the health care givers.

"After due consultation with all the stakeholders and the government, (and) with reference to the prevailing ground situation of elections already successfully held in several parts of the country; (we) have taken a well considered decision in principle to hold elections to Gram Panchayats in the state tentatively in the month of February. It may be noted that there are no legal hurdles to hold GP elections which are held on a non party basis,” Kumar said in a statement.

The SEC informed that all safeguards would be enforced learning from the best practices “including in neighboring Telangana's GHMC elections.”

The schedule for the 1 December Hyderabad civic body polls was declared on Tuesday by Kumar's Telangana counterpart C Parthasarathi.