Now, Andhra CM Jagan says no to local body polls

Now, Andhra CM Jaganmohan Reddy says no to local body polls

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy. Credit: Facebook (ysjagan)

The Jaganmohan Reddy government has expressed its opposition to holding the Panchayat polls in the state during the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, State Election Commissioner (SEC) Ramesh Kumar had announced that “encouraged by the success of Covid-19 containment measures in Andhra Pradesh and elections successfully held in several parts of the country” a decision was taken to hold Gram Panchayat elections tentatively in February.

In response, Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney cited “the high number of active cases and spread to rural areas … a matter of grave concern,” while asking the SEC to re-examine the plans.

“A comparison amongst states may not present a correct picture. We may not let down our guard particularly as the Central government has warned states to be wary of winter months. We cannot afford to have another surge having already lost 6,890 human lives,” Sawhney wrote to the SEC on Tuesday.

The stand is in the reversal of the situation in March when Chief Minister Reddy wanted polls but Kumar suspended them referring to the rising number of cases.

The decision then led to the removal of Kumar, a retired IAS officer, from the SEC post in April by the Reddy government. The chief minister had even accused the SEC of functioning unilaterally and in a partisan manner, favouring the Opposition TDP.

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

Last month, Kumar held consultations on the polls with various parties, in which the ruling YSRCP refused to participate.

Reddy, it is believed, wants to wait till April by when Kumar's term as the SEC ends.

Sawhney, in her letter, said the government would inform the SEC on its preparedness in resuming the adjourned elections “as and when the situation becomes conducive”.

While Kumar wanted to hold a video conference with officials regarding the polls on Wednesday, Sawhney deemed it unnecessary.

Kumar said “holding elections is not only a Constitutional obligation” but a prerequisite for the release of funds under the finance commission mandate.