Democracy butchered in AP?

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The local body elections in Andhra Pradesh expose the anti-democratic character of the YSRCP government. Opposition parties were being barred from filing their nominations in hundreds of seats across several constituencies and contesting candidates were being attacked. Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, who was placed under house arrest by the government, went on to call it a brutal operation for murder of democracy, never seen after the dark days of 70s. In some places, the contesting candidates were beaten right in the presence of the Andhra Pradesh police. Naidu and other prominent leaders of all political parties fear that democracy was being butchered and that a farce was being thrust upon Andhra Pradesh. He accused the YSRCP of trying to prevent Opposition candidates from filing their nominations to ensure its own candidates won uncontested. Naidu, at a press conference, said in Andhra Pradesh people were more terrified of Jagan virus and not the Corona virus that is killing people by the dozens.

Lumpen forces were being mobilised to terrorise the opposition and prevent them from submitting nominations, political parties cutting across all ideologies have rued. At many places, either the opposition candidates were not allowed to file nominations or were pressured to withdraw from the contest. In Raichur, a TDP candidate’s nomination papers were torn allegedly by the YSRCP workers. The story was the same in Tirupati, Anantapur, Guntur, East Godavari, Nellore, Vijayawada, Kadapa and across the state. TDP leaders former MLA Bonda Umamaheswara Rao, MLC Buddha Venkanna and a High Court advocate were attacked allegedly by the YSRCP workers.

Leaders like Naidu, his colleagues Varla Ramaiah, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Pawan Kalyan of Jana Sena, G V L Narasimha Rao of BJP, Ramakrishna of CPM called the police partner in crime. In almost all places, police helped and shielded the miscreants, they cried. National BJP spokesperson said even the Election Commission was hand-in-glove by turning a blind eye to the widespread violence in Andhra Pradesh ahead of civic body polls. Andhra Pradesh BJP Rajya Sabha members wrote a letter to Union Home minister Amit Shah alleging that YSRCP members are targeting BJP members in various districts of the state to spread fear among the cadres. Some called the state EC a mere puppet in the hands of the state government. Other leaders sought the intervention of the Election Commission pleading it to stay the election process.

YSRCP Rajya Sabha MP Vijaysai Reddy brushed aside all incidents of violence as mere ‘drama’ by the main opposition TDP knowing too well that the party will face a crushing defeat at the hands of his party president Jagan Mohan Reddy, but Naidu accused that such levels of violence unseen before was a clear indication that the entire operation of blocking the opposition was directly administered by the chief minister.

On the 10th foundation year of the party, Vijaysai Reddy claimed that the party has been the first to launch several new projects in the state and that the government received several honours for the good work done. However, the incidents of violence captured on cameras and circulated on social media during the filing of nominations for the local body elections across the state bore proof of the fact that the party has done little in terms of governance and little in terms of restoring confidence in democracy. Did the YSRCP dispensation work enough for the betterment of the villages and the villagers, if that was the case there would have been no reason for it to stop people from filing their nominations. What does the YSRCP fear? Has it lost the mass support that it enjoyed in 2019 elections? Is it scared of an adverse election outcome? Under the current situation, will the electorate be able to exercise their democratic rights freely and fairly? These are some of the questions being raised by the contesting political parties. Such allegations will not bode well for YSRCP president and chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy who was given a huge mandate by the people in 2019 elections. The Election Commission has a constitutional duty to act as a referee and all powers to exercise. It needs to be accountable and transparent, ensure that elections are conducted a in free and fair manner else it will lose its sanctity.

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