AMARAVATI: Andhra Pradesh Civil Supplies Minister Kodali Sri Venkateshwar Rao has accused State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar of misusing his constitutional position in his eagerness to conduct rural local bodies elections.
Do not do these petty things being in a constitutional position, Rao said while claiming that Kumar was acting at the behest of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
Rao, a senior Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leader, challenged the SEC to join the TDP after demitting office in March to contest some election which he said will expose whos who.
Rao reminded Kumar that when the YSRCP government wanted to conduct the elections in March when there was no lockdown, he allegedly colluded with Naidu to postpone them.
Rao ridiculed the SEC that he could not get the local elections conducted when there were two cases in the state but was now raring for the polls with ballots when Andhra was seeing recording 500 to 2,000 cases every day.
According to the Minister, a voter will be required to vote 2-3 times in sarpanch elections since a small village will have 12 wards and big ones 16-20 wards.
By the time a voter votes, and the ballots get picked up, counted and all that, there is a possibility of spread of coronavirus, he claimed.
The Andhra government and the SEC have been at loggerheads for almost a year now, each one taking opposing positions with respect to rural civic body elections.
Time not ripe for rural bodies elections: Andhra govt tells SEC
The Andhra Pradesh government has told State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar that the time was not yet ripe for conducting rural civic body elections amid the coronavirus pandemic and urged him to reconsider the poll panel’s decision.
“As and when the situation becomes conducive for the conduct of elections to rural local bodies, the state government will immediately inform the SEC regarding its preparedness and readiness in holding the adjourned elections,” Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney wrote to the SEC.
Citing the pandemic, especially with respect to the onset of winter, she said the state cannot afford to see another surge in infections as already 6,890 patients have succumbed to the virus.
“Hence, we may not let down our guard, particularly when the government of India has warned the states to be wary of the winter months,” pointed out Sawhney.
In view of the prevailing situation, the Chief Secretary said, the decision to hold elections during a particular period “may not be in the best interest of safety and health of Andhra people”.
“It is, therefore, kindly rged that the commission may reexamine any decision in this regard. For the same reason, it may perhaps not be necessary at present to review the preparedness for conduct of elections,” she noted.
Sawhney said the overall high positivity rate and active corona cases, along with the risk of the pandemic spreading to rural areas, were a matter of grave concern.
She also highlighted that a videoconference purportedly proposed by the SEC on Wednesday might not even be required as further consultations could be held on the matter.
According to Sawhney, the district administrations, including police, were engaged in Covid containment measures.
The senior IAS officer also noted that various states followed different strategies to deal with the pandemic as they were affected at different levels.
“A comparison amongst states may not present a correct picture,” she said.
Sawhney said she hoped that Kumar would understand the concerns of the state government.
The Andhra government and the SEC have been at loggerheads for almost a year now, each taking opposing position with respect to rural civic body elections.