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TDP announces boycott of Andhra local polls


Andhra Pradesh’s opposition Telugu Desam Party on Friday announced its decision to boycott the upcoming Zilla and Mandal Parishad polls, with party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu expressing doubts over them being held in a free and fair manner.

Interacting with the media at Mangalagiri following the party’s politbureau meet, Naidu, who is also the former Chief Minister, objected to the election notification being issued in haste by the newly-appointed State Election Commissioner Neelam Sahni, who took over charge on Thursday and issued the election notification the same evening.

“The SEC has been reduced to a mere rubber stamp in the Parishad polls,” Naidu alleged.

The TDP has been asking for a fresh notification of local body elections on account of the Tirupati Lok Sabha bypoll.

Noting that the SEC was to announce the polls after taking the opinion of all political parties, he said it had announced the dates on its own. “I don’t think these polls will be held freely and fairly. Therefore the party has decided not to participate in these polls,” Naidu said.

On Thursday, the SEC announced that the ZPTC and MPTC polls would be held on April 8, and results declared on April 10. The polls, originally scheduled to be held in 2020, were put on hold by then SEC Ramesh Kumar, citing the Covid pandemic.

The BJP and Jana Sena parties also boycotted Friday’s all-party meet convened by the SEC.

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Ramesh shadow teams to block YCP unanimous polls


The ongoing panchayat elections have turned into a serious battle between SEC Ramesh Kumar and the ruling YCP leaders. At all levels, the ruling party leaders were attacking the SEC. Their differences on unanimous elections have reached a point of no return.

Upset over this, Ramesh Kumar has ordered formation of shadow teams all over the State to visit villages and keep a close watch on the unanimous elections. The shadow teams are instructed to interfere and report if anybody is trying to use force or intimidation for unanimous elections.
There have been heated exchanges between the SEC and the YCP Ministers and Advisors on this issue. Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy has even made personal remarks against Ramesh for objecting to unanimous polls. The SEC has also urged the Governor to remove Sajjala as the Government Advisor.

Amid this, Ramesh Kumar has personally begun making field visits in the Rayalaseema districts to supervise the situation. Even then, reports of untoward incidents are continuing. A TDP sarpanch candidate in Lingaguda village in Krishna district attempted suicide after the YCP leaders broke the agreement for unanimous election. As per the agreement, the TDP candidate would have got elected unanimously this time.

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Will AP Govt approach Supreme Court on panchayat polls?


The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has given its green signal for the panchayat elections in the State. The division bench struck down the stay order issued by the single judge bench on the polls. The division bench of the High Court asserted that both the elections and public health were important. The election authorities should go ahead with the process by taking all necessary preventive measures against the Coronavirus epidemic.

Now, speculation is rife that the Chief Minister is all set to take a decision to approach the Supreme Court against the division bench order. Already, the CM has called available Ministers to discuss the issue. If the decision to move the Apex Court is taken, then it would be easy to delay the election till after March. By that time, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar will retire.

Minister Kanna Babu has welcome the division bench order but criticised the SEC still that Mr. Ramesh Kumar was adamant on holding panchayat polls putting the people’s health at risk.

Former CM Chandrababu Naidu welcomed the High Court, saying that the judges may change but justice will remain. It is not surprising that most of the Jagan Government’s decisions were getting adverse orders from the courts.

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AP government gets huge respite as HC cancels local elections schedule

In what could be termed as a huge respite for YSRCP government of Andhra Pradesh , High Court today cancelled the schedule issued by state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and concurred with the argument of the state government that the local body elections could not be held at this moment because of the planned vaccination schedule. Details as below.

The government of Andhra Pradesh and state election commission have been at loggerheads ever since state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar postponed local body elections citing Covid 19 proliferation last year. At that time CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy alleged that State election Commissioner has been working as per the orders of former chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu as both of them belong to the same community and as he was appointed by the former chief minister. But recently Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has been planning to conduct local body elections before he steps out from his position . But it seems now, the government is adamant and wants to have elections only after he steps out.

In this backdrop, Nimmagadda released schedule of local body elections recently, citing that COVID has been in control in AP, which came as shocker to the government. But as vaccination plan for COVID-19 is in place already, government has invoked article 19 of the constitution i.e. right to live and the Honourable court has concurred with the argument put forward by the government. So, the court has made the schedule released by SEC null and void.

We need to wait and see how the political parties respond to this.

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AP Govt employees threaten to boycott local polls


The Government employees and the police associations are reacting strongly against the SEC decision on the local polls. The AP Government employees JAC has threatened to boycott the election if the SEC conducts it unilaterally. The leaders of all these associations are coming out openly making media statements demanding State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to withdraw his decision on the February local elections.

Police Officers Association State President Janakula Srinivasa Rao said that there was a grave danger to the police if they were to take part in the election duty at this juncture. Already, 109 policemen had lost their lives after falling victim to the Coronavirus pandemic. Under such disastrous circumstances, it was not correct to endanger the lives of the police.

AP Employees JAC Chairman Bopparaju Venkateswarlu said that the SEC should reconsider and rethink on his decision to hold the elections at this crucial time. The employees would not be able to take part in the election duty under the prevailing dangerous circumstances. It would not be correct to hold elections in a time of vaccination drive.

It is well known that the employees and police associations were openly supporting the Jagan regime from the beginning. But the surprising thing is that they are now attacking even a constitutional institution like the SEC with their political statements.

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Jagan Govt to go to Supreme Court on SEC schedule

The AP Government has raised a banner of revolt once again against the election schedule issued by State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. The Government has decided to approach the Supreme Court. While the Chief Secretary was arguing that the officials and employees would be busy with vaccination, the SEC has said that the elections were held even in the US where the Coronavirus impact was the highest.

What more, the SEC has announced that the election code with respect to the panchayat elections would be effective from Saturday i.e. January 9. With this, the Jagan Reddy regime would not be able to come out with many of its welfare programmes that were planned during this festival month. As per the schedule, the AP panchayat polls will be held on February 5, 9, 13 and 17. The notifications for the same would be released on January 23, 27, 31 and February 4.

Though the Chief Secretary gave in writing that the panchayat polls should be postponed, the SEC had rejected the same. The YCP quickly condemned the SEC schedule and asked how the elections could be held now when Nimmagadda had postponed the elections when there were just 26 Covid 19 cases in the State.

Nimmagadda announced that the panchayat polls would be held as per schedule. He faulted the Government for not implementing the Supreme Court orders on taking prior permission of the SEC for beginning the Government programmes during the time of elections.

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Local polls: AP High Court gives 3-day deadline for Jagan Govt


No wonder, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh is all close to getting involuntarily involved in the day to day administration of the State. In its order today, the High Court ordered the Jagan Reddy Government to send three top level officials to meet with the State Election Commission.

The three officials should meet the SEC within the next three days after receiving the order copy. These officials should also be of the rank of the Principal Secretary. The court orders were with respect to the need for the Government to cooperate with the SEC to conduct the local body elections.

This time, the High Court mentioned even minute details with respect to the implementation of its order. Obviously, the judges were of the opinion that they would have to be specific and targetted in making the Government to implement their orders. Till now, the court orders were not being straightaway implemented in the name of approaching the higher court for appeal.

It is well known that the Jagan regime was unwilling to cooperate till after SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar would retire in March next year. But, as head of an autonomous Constitutional institution, Ramesh decided to hold local polls in February. The Government has been dragging the litigation in the matter by filing one petition or other. Now, the court disposed of the Government petition and ordered for specific action without further delaying local polls.

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Jagan govt makes its stand clear on local body polls


As expected, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government seems to be in no mood to hold elections to local bodies anytime soon.

With the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar preparing to hold local body polls in state, the YSRCP party leaders have clarified that the government will not conduct the elections in November.

Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar called for an all party meeting on October 28 to discuss various aspects of holding elections. Now with the Central and state governments easing Covid restrictions, Ramesh is planning to hold deliberations with all the political parties for conduct of local body elections.

Industries minister Mekapati Gautam Reddy spelled out his government’s stand on holding elections.

After attending a meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee in Tadepalli, Gautam Reddy said currently the Covid-19 situation has improved with the declining caseload. However, he predicted a second and even third wave of Covid-19. The minister, as if he had a crystal ball, said the cases will increase in November. “Elections in states like Bihar are mandatory and we have some leeway for local body elections,” he said. Last month, the Andhra Pradesh government had even filed an affadavit in the High Court stating that local body polls should not be held in view of Covid-19.

The local body elections were cancelled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Ramesh Kumar was removed as SEC by the state government following his decision on March 15 to postpone the local body elections that were scheduled to be held in the last week of March.

Ramesh Kumar had cited the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown as reasons behind his decision, but chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and state chief secretary Nilam Sawhney vehemently opposed his decision. Ramesh Kumar’s decision to postpone the local body elections had stirred a hornet’s nest in state politics.

The Jagan government had promulgated an ordinance reducing the term of the state election commissioner from five years to three and Ramesh Kumar was removed from the position.

The Andhra Pradesh government overnight appointed retired Madras High Court judge justice Kanagaraj as the chief election commissioner. Ramesh Kumar had challenged his termination and the appointment of Kanagaraj in his position in the AP High Court which ruled in his favor dismissing the state government’s ordinance for constitutional validity. Ramesh Kumar was later reinstated as SEC.

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Opposition parties meet Governor, seek denotification of polls


Leaders of the Opposition parties, including the Telugu Desam Party, Congress, CPI, Aam Admi and Forward Bloc on Thursday met Andhra Pradesh Governor Bishwa Bhushan Harichandan at Raj Bhavan in Vijayawada seeking denotification of elections to the local bodies.

Andhra Pradesh TDP president Kala Venkat Rao demanded conduct of the local body elections by the Election Commission in a free and fair manner starting the filing of nomination process afresh. The TDP leader alleged that their candidates were threatened and beaten up by the ruling party members at the time of filing nominations.

The Opposition parties welcomed the State Election Commission’s decision to postpone the civic body elections in Andhra Pradesh and sought police protection to the election commissioner Ramesh Kumar following his letter to Union Home Secretary.

CPI leader Rama Krishna alleged widespread violence right in the presence of the police and that the activists of opposition parties were attacked at the time of filing nominations.

Four BJP MPs met Union Home Minister Amit Shah alleging widespread violence and instances of breach of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling party.

Soon after the SEC postponed elections, AP CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy lodged his protest with Governor Bishwa Bhushan and alleged that Ramesh Kumar was favouring a particular community and political party. On his party, Ramesh Kumar had a 45 minute detailed discussions with the governor explaining the factors that led to the postponement of elections, the primary being corona and violence in AP. Ramesh Kumar had written a letter to the Union Home Secretary requesting the Centre to provide him central police force security cover, saying he apprehends threat to his life and that of his family members.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the SEC’s decision to put off the elections and directed the election commission to partially relax the model code of conduct as the polls were postponed.

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YSRCP moves SC over postponement of polls

YSR Congress Party on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the decision of the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to postpone the rural and urban local bodies in Andhra Pradesh.

The Supreme Court is likely to hear the case tomorrow. On Sunday, Ramesh Kumar postponed the civic body elections citing the emerging challenges posed by the spread of coronavirus and that continuing with the election schedule may be detrimental and harmful to the public health at large.

Ramesh Kumar on Monday met Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan at the Raj Bhavan in Vijayawada and discussed the factors that led to the postponement of the elections. On Sunday, YSRCP president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy met the Governor complaining against the State Election Commissioner’s “arbitrary” postponement of the polls to rural and urban local bodies.

In the discussion lasting for about 45 minute, Ramesh Kumar is learnt to have submitted a detailed report on the commission’s decision to exercise its plenary powers under Articles 243K and 243ZA of the Constitution to put on hold the election process for a period of six weeks or till the threat of Covid-19 is arrested or declined and normalcy restored. The State Election Commissioner said his decisions were strictly as per statute and judgments of High Court and Supreme Court. Further, the election commissioner, it is learnt, has submitted a report on the incidents of violence reported across the state ahead of the elections.

Elections to Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies were originally scheduled for March 21. Nomination process for this has already been completed. Elections to municipalities, nagar panchayats and municipal corporations were slated for March 23.

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