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Andhra SEC satisfied with conduct of peaceful panchayat polls

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Sharply contesting the claims made by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC), Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Monday said the four-phase panchayat elections were held peacefully and expressed complete satisfaction over the polls.

“Police strictly participated in the election duty, including setting aside their Covid-19 vaccination, which did not lead to any untoward incident. The Election Commission expresses complete satisfaction,” Kumar added.

He also highlighted that the number of unanimous polls were also not abnormal.

“When we conducted the elections for 13,097 positions (panchayats), only 2,195 positions or 16 per cent of them had unanimous polls,” the SEC said.

However, contradicting Kumar, Chandrababu Naidu and TDP leaders have been making a barrage of allegations that the polls were not held in a free and fair manner.

According to Kumar, 10,890 ‘sarpanches’ have directly competed in the elections and won, including up to 50 per cent women and representatives from the weaker sections.

Kumar hoped that those winning the elections would provide good leadership.

He also heaped praise on employees of different government departments for their services in holding the polls peacefully across the state which continued for nearly a month.

“In every phase of the polls, nearly more than 90,000 government employees from all departments have participated. More than 50,000 policemen also participated in every phase of the elections,” said Kumar, who retired as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.

Indicating the high level of participation in the polls, Kumar added, more than 80 per cent voters exercised their franchise.

He appreciated the Director General of Police, Chief Secretary and the Health department for their cooperation and services.

The holding of rural local body (panchayat) elections had emerged as a major flashpoint between the SEC and the YSR Congress Party government, which have been at loggerheads for more than a year.

The panchayat elections were originally slated in 2018 when the tenure of the local bodies expired back then but Kumar chose not to hold them and waited until 2021.

However, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed the idea of going to the polls in March 2020 but Kumar refused holding them citing the coronavirus pandemic, which had lead to a major row between the two.

Reddy accused Kumar of acting at the behest of opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, during whose tenure he was appointed and even tried to replace him, which backfired as the SEC has constitutional protection equal to a Supreme Court judge.

With just one more month left as the SEC, Kumar has successfully conducted the polls which the state government could not stall with their deferment appeal being dismissed in the Supreme Court.

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Municipal polls schedule released, March 10th election, 14th counting

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State election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh released the schedule for municipal polls today. The elections will be held for 75 municipalities, 12 corporations and Nagar panchayats. Details as below.

As per the schedule, elections will be held on 10th March, and the counting of votes will happen on 14th March. 3rd March is the deadline for withdrawing nominations. These elections were supposed to be held last year but postponed due to Corona pandemic. Now SEC decided to continue the polls from where the process was halted. Unlike Panchayat elections that were conducted without party symbols, these elections will be conducted on party symbols. So the announcement of these elections is expected to raise political heat in the state.

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

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Will Ramesh order repoll in Peddireddy’s Punganur?

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Being the head of a constitutional institution, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar is using all his constitutional powers to take on the ruling YCP leaders. Now, he is making a cinematic visit to the Punganur assembly constituency represented by Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy. Like a popular dialogue in one of those Balakrishna films, the SEC is going straight to the middle point of the YCP leaders’ home constituencies and making his point clear that he had got all the powers as the head of the Election Commission.

Peddireddy has become the present target of Ramesh Kumar. The Minister has caused a lot of embarrassment to the SEC by dragging him to the court. Peddireddy could get the court relief as it did not check the tapes of his comments against Ramesh Kumar. Now, the threat of the court taking a serious note of the tapes almost silenced Peddireddy. Amid this, Ramesh Kumar is now visiting the Minister’s home constituency.

Peddireddy, who usually won’t care about any ill effects of his statements, is now maintaining maximum restraint. He has not made any sensational statement against the SEC’s current visit to Punganur.

It may be recalled that in the past, Peddireddy passed aggressive comments against Ramesh Kumar’s visit to CM Jagan Reddy’s home district of Kadapa. Now, the Minister’s followers are greatly worried whether the SEC would announce repolling in the Punganur segment panchayats after completing his visit.

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Ramesh orders criminal intimidation case against Kodali

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State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has started using the powers vested in him to put a full stop to the YCP Ministers’ non-stop attacks. As the head of an autonomous, constitutional institution, Mr. Ramesh Kumar has now ordered the Krishna District SP to register a case against Minister Kodali Nani.

The SEC ordered for registering a case against Kodali under sections 504, 5050(1)(c) and 506. These sections were for the Minister deliberately insulting the SEC, provoking feelings and for criminal intimidation against the Election Commission. The SEC instructed the SP to book the election code violations against Kodali. Now, the ball is in the court of the police district boss. Right now, the police all over the State are under tremendous pressure from the YCP.

This is the first time that Ramesh Kumar has straightaway ordered the police to book cases. He has even mentioned the sections of the IPC under which the SP has to book the cases.

Ramesh relatively gave a lesser punishment to Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy who however got some relief from the High Court. This has not brought change in the YCP Ministers’ attitude. The SEC was greatly angered by the refusal of Kodali Nani to give reply to his show cause notice. As usual, the YCP would once again go to the court seeking relief from the SEC order to file cases against Kodali. All roads lead to the court nowadays in AP.

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SEC very short deadline to Kodali on ration vehicles

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State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar has changed his tactic. Everytime, he is taking serious action, the YCP Ministers and MLAs are getting relief from the court. This time, he has begun to issue notices and release the same in the media. In his latest move, Ramesh has given a notice to Minister Kodali Nani on the issue of ban on ration delivery vehicles in the poll-bound areas.

In a very attacking tone, Ramesh Kumar issued a show cause notice to the Minister asking him to give his reply in person or through a representative to the Election Commission. He gave a very short deadline for the Minister’s reaction by not giving him even a day’s time. Kodali Nani has passed damaging remarks against the SEC for ordering removal of the YCP colours and the CM photo from the ration vehicles. The Minister promptly replied, refusing to give his reply and merely asked the SEC to withdraw his showcase.

Ramesh Kumar has also given a notice to YCP MLA Jogi Ramesh for his threats to the voters. Jogi Ramesh has threatened to remove pensions and Rythu Bharosa and other benefits if anybody was found voting for the Opposition parties. As these videos of Jogi Ramesh got viral, the Election Commissioner has taken a serious view of this.

The SEC has also ordered Jogi Ramesh not to speak to the media to make comments against the Election Commission. The MLA is also threatening to go to court. Only recently, Minister Peddireddy got relief from the court against the SEC ban to speak to the media.

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YCP-TDP force Ramesh to open Call Centre

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The post of the State Election Commissioner (SEC) has fallen into an unenviable position in Andhra Pradesh. SEC Ramesh Kumar has been fighting like a one man army against the YCP Ministers and MLAs. Now, even Chandrababu Naidu has launched attacks on Ramesh Kumar for not preventing the YCP attacks and atrocities in the first phase panchayat elections. Naidu has threatened to go to the court on countless illegalities.

Amid the threats from both the ruling and opposition parties, Ramesh Kumar has decided to monitor complaints himself personally. He has launched a Call Centre at 08662466877 at the SEC office. He specifically selected some staff to take each and every complaint in detail.

Not only that, Ramesh Kumar has decided to himself closely monitor the complaints round the clock. He has told his staff to send the complaints immediately to the respective District Collectors, SPs and Returning Officers for taking necessary action.

Ramesh started the Call Centre in the face of strong criticism from the Opposition over unchecked election offences by the ruling party leaders. There was also the threat of many aggrieved candidates to file petitions in the courts. Already, the SEC is dragged into many cases in the court by the ruling YCP.

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Andhra SEC can’t use ‘eWatch’ app until Feb 17 as HC adjourns case

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In a major setback to Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, the high court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on ‘eWatch’, an election monitoring app, until February 17, rendering it useless until then.

The court said the SEC cannot use the app until it procures a security certificate, and directed the SEC to reply to the queries raised by the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services (APTS), the nodal agency for conducting security audit and issuing a security certificate, without which no app can come into play.

The court took up the PILs filed against eWatch, which were heard by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Praveen Kumar.

C. Sumon, representing the state government, informed the court that based on the SEC’s request, APTS conducted preliminary tests and sent a report about the security flaws and concerns detected in eWatch.

The APTS highlighted that allegedly the source code of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Department was used in the development of eWatch.

Sumon apprised the court that the SEC has not allegedly produced any document to show that the social welfare department gave permission to use its source code.

In this regard, the APTS sought more information from the SEC and it was highlighted that if the source code was used without the knowledge of the social welfare department, then there is the possibility of a major cyber security threat to the department.

The APTS generally takes five days just to check the security worthiness of an app.

The election commission expressed its willingness to use the election monitoring app of the Election Commission of India (ECI) if it is allowed to do so while the SEC’s counsel submitted that the app developed by the state government, Nigha, was not working.

The court enquired if the state government has any objection if the app developed by it is used by the SEC.

Sumon informed the court that he had no instructions on the status of the app developed by the state but said that the state will not have any objection.

Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a war of poll apps in the run-up to the rural local bodies elections.

Earlier, three petitions were filed in the court challenging the app, which attracted criticism from the ruling YSR Congress Party as well as the BJP.

The petitioners as well as YSRCP leaders alleged that Kumar ignored ECI’s CVIGIL app and the state government’s apps and went for an altogether new app.

According to the plaintiffs, the State Election Commission allegedly did not have the required security certificate under the Andhra Pradesh cyber security policy and other government orders, while Kumar had failed to approach the relevant government agency to secure a security certificate.

Though the election commission’s newly appointed secretary, Kannababu, said that eWatch was completely developed inhouse while launching it, the petitioners alleged that it is not clear as to who exactly developed the digital app.

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Friction grows between Andhra election commissioner, govt

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With each passing day in Andhra Pradesh, friction between the state government and the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar is increasing, leading to a flurry of orders from the latter and a verbal backlash from the ministers and legislators.

On Sunday, the High Court dismissed Kumar’s order to the Director-General of Police Gautam Sawang directing him to confine the Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy to his home until the end of the Panchayat elections.

However, Kumar went ahead giving orders that officials should not be transferred after the elections.

Following these developments, a host of leaders from the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) lashed out at Kumar.

“AP High Court gave rulings against two of your orders, please remember. At least now please do not cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ and behave according to the Constitution,” said senior YSRCP leader Ambati Rambabu.

“In case he does not do that”, Rambabu said, adding that the Constitution will not protect him.

Likewise, Sarvepalli MLA Kakani Govardhan Reddy alleged that Kumar was conducting in such a way that could benefit the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

“Because of his excessive interference we have accepted the complaints raised by Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana in the privilege committee for investigation,” said Reddy.

Meanwhile, inspector turned Parliamentarian, Gorantla Madhav, lashed out at Kumar, a retired Indian Administrative Service Officer (IAS).

Madhav castigated Kumar that he was behaving like actor Brahmanandam, who essayed the role of ‘Kill Bill Pandey’ in a Telugu movie to fulfill some fantasies.

Madhav warned that the government would act sternly against Kumar if he exceeded his brief and claimed that nobody could match Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

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Who is winning this ego battle? Jagan or Ramesh

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As the Supreme Court of India rightly pointed out, an epic ego battle is going on between CM Jagan Reddy and State Election Commissioner Ramesh Kumar. An otherwise calm and peace loving retired IAS officer, Ramesh Kumar has undoubtedly taken much courage to stand up and say no to the Jagan regime’s intimidatory tactics that started after the local body polls began.

Ramesh was not proactive in the first phase poll. It was only after he postponed the polls that CM Jagan unleashed an open, casteist attack. That triggered what AP voters were now seeing the endless ego battle. Whatever, all through the game, the SEC was tasting his little successes in humbling the CM and his Ministers. Jagan Reddy was determined not to allow the panchayat elections till Ramesh Kumar retires but that could not be achieved.

The conduct and continuation of elections itself was seen as a big morale booster for the SEC. Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy’s remarks caused some damage but the High Court’s order restored the prestige of the SEC partially.

Now, Ramesh Kumar has decided to visit Kadapa district in order to send his message strongly to the AP voters. By focusing his attention on the CM’s home district, the SEC has already succeeded in ensuring far fewer unanimous elections there than expected. Ramesh Kumar is beginning to tour Kadapa and other districts with his slogan that the people should cast their votes and make the elections a big success.

Needless to say, Ramesh Kumar’s bold visits to the CM’s home district have been greatly irritating his most loyal Ministers. No wonder, the SEC is drawing more satisfaction in this so-called ego battle that is giving sleepless nights to the YCP leaders.

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Ramesh gives colours twist to Jagan ration vehicles

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The YCP’s fascination for giving its party flag colours to the public property has given it many troubles and embarrassments. The YCP colours on the panchayat buildings have been dragged to the court in the past. Now, once again, the colours issue came to the fore. State Election Commissioner Ramesh Kumar issued fresh orders asking the Government to change the colours on the ration door vehicles.
In the beginning, based on the High Court orders, Ramesh Kumar allowed ration delivery through the vehicles. But, objections came pouring in that the YCP colours on the ration vehicles were having an impact on the voters. Wherever the panchayat elections were being held, the Government was asked not to use the present vehicles in their present condition to deliver the ration items.

Already, the SEC has put objections to the use of CM Jagan Reddy photos on the vehicles. Accordingly, the officials took suitable measures to hide the CM photos during ration distribution in the election-bound villages.
Ramesh Kumar’s order would be final in this respect. The YCP would have no say any further other than that it would have to approach the court once again. In its previous order itself, the High Court instructed the SEC to inspect the ration vehicles and give permission by making suitable suggestions.

The SEC instructed the officials to change colours to other those being used by the political parties. Going by this, the blue, green, yellow, red colours would have to be avoided considering their prominent use in the parties’ flags. The colours problem arose for the first in AP in the entire country only after the YCP started using its party colours on the Government buildings and property against which the Opposition parties were approaching the court.

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2 major irritants in Ramesh election watch app

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Political circles are surprised at the way in which the Jagan Reddy Government hurriedly petitioned the High Court against the latest e-Watch app of the State Election Commission (SEC). When a deeper look is taken, then it has become clear how SEC Ramesh Kumar has greatly annoyed and embarrassed the ruling YCP Ministers and MLAs. Not just that, the latest app is also going to give a tough time to the police and all election officials with respect to election violations.

Two major irritants are found in this whole thing. The first one is regarding the secrecy of the complainant’s details. Anybody can file a complaint about a threat, kidnapping, etc without revealing their personal details. Usually, the Government departments would not accept such anonymous complaints. Being an autonomous institution, the SEC has preferred to maintain secrecy for encouraging the public to freely report any election malpractice.
The second issue is about the provisions in the app to keep a close watch on the action taken by the respondent officials who were on election duty. The SEC will directly monitor to check whether the police or the election officials concerned have responded to the complaint or not.

These checks and balances brought in by the SEC have undoubtedly embarrassed the YCP leaders, who are afraid that the official machinery may not cooperate fully like before because of the app.

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Jagan to go to court against Ramesh ‘election app’

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All battles, whether minor or medium or major, are eventually landing in the courts. Cases and arrests, comments and counter comments have become the order of the day in Andhra Pradesh. Now, the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YCP is going to approach the High Court on the issue of the app developed by the AP State Election Commission.

The argument of the ruling YCP Ministers is that the app was not actually developed by the SEC. They suspected that the SEC app was developed in the office of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy has said that the SEC got the election app developed in the TDP office. Ramesh Kumar should disclose whether he has worked for the benefit of Chandrababu Naidu or not.

Even in the past, the YCP has alleged that the letters written by Ramesh Kumar to the Central Government were drafted in the TDP office.

Peddireddy was also criticising that Ramesh Kumar has gone to the extent of threatening and blackmailing the Governor of Andhra Pradesh as well.

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Who is a true YSR loyalist? Jagan or Ramesh

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Suddenly, a raging debate is going on now on the issue of loyalty of different persons to YSR. It all started after State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar raised the issue during his visit to the Kadapa district. He has asserted that he rose in his professional career only because of YSR’s patronage. Ramesh worked as the Finance Secretary under YSR rule. Thanks to YSR support, Ramesh later served at the united AP Governor’s office.

But, the YCP leaders asked why Ramesh was now ordering to cover the YSR statues in the name of the election code. This question might look odd to the neutral persons but in the eyes of the YSR family loyalists, it was okay. Blind loyalty was what they would expect. Going by that, Nimmagadda should close his eyes to whatever violations of the YCP. Only this would prove his loyalty.

Not keeping silent on this, the TDP stepped in and asserted that Ramesh seemed to be a true loyalist of YSR going by his past association. Whereas, CM Jagan Reddy had no such loyalty. Though he was a son, Jagan Reddy gave priority to collecting signatures to succeed as the next CM while his father’s body was still untraceable.

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Allegiance to Constitution never wavered: IAS officer rebuts Andhra SEC

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Following Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar levelling allegations against senior IAS officer Praveen Prakash, the latter rebutted the allegations and said that his allegiance to the Constitution never wavered.

Prakash refuted the three allegations of not responding to the SEC’s mail, influencing collectors and superintendents of police against attending Kumar’s video conference and about his earlier transfers.

Prakash, who is the principal secretary to the chief minister and also holds the same post in the general administration department (GAD), said he immediately responded to Kumar’s email sent to him on Monday,

“I have replied to Ramesh that principal secretary political is not an independent office. Chief secretary (CS) is the head of GAD and I report to him. I humbly submitted to Ramesh that in future also all communications should be addressed to the CS,” said Prakash.

He said that as far as the All India Services (AIS) officers’ issues are concerned, the decision never comes at the principal secretary level.

“So holding me accountable for the points raised above is in what way justifiable sir? Is it fair? Is it ethical sir?” posed Prakash to Chief Secretary Das.

Regarding the second issue, the IAS officer said that status quo was maintained in the intervening period between the High Court single bench, divisional bench and Supreme Court judgments regarding the conduct of the rural local bodies elections.

Prakash said the status quo was maintained to avoid creating confusion in the field, which was also communicated to the SEC and known to officers in the field too.

“That was the sole reason for AIS officers not attending the video conference convened by the SEC on January 23. In what way am I involved in stopping the officers from participating in the video conference? Is it fair?” he questioned.

Regarding his transfer from Visakhapatnam and Rangareddy districts earlier, the principal secretary said it was purely because of notifying a returning officer in anticipation of approval from the Election Commission of India (ECI) during a by-election in Visakhapatnam Urban constituency.

He said his explanation to the competent authorities acknowledged his bonafide action and closed the issue, however, the closure of issues of such nature involve a lot of processes which take time.

“It was the sole reason why I was transferred out of Rangareddy district during Vikarabad by-election in 2008 and not because of any additional issues pertaining to that district,” he explained.

According to Prakash, after the closure of the issue, the ECI reposed faith in him by entrusting the responsibility of general election observer for two high profile elections in Bihar and Tamil Nadu.

“The responsibility given to me in 2014 and 2017 clearly demonstrated that the nation has faith in me and my capabilities. I have always stayed true to myself and my allegiance to the Constitution of India never wavered, not even for a second,” added Prakash.

Saying he submitted all the facts to Das, Prakash said he will accept any decision or punishment awarded to him by the Chief Secretary with humility.

The rocky relationship between the SEC and the state government over the panchayat elections is roiling many officers.

Set to retire in two months’ time, Kumar has already transferred a bunch of officers, including dismissing one subordinate in his own office.

Recently, he wrote to Das alleging that it is prejudicial for free and fair elections if Prakash continues in the GAD and invoked his plenary powers to transfer him, including barring him from talking to collectors and SPs.

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Ministers give privilege notice against Ramesh Kumar

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YCP Ministers Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana have been making all sorts of allegations against SEC Ramesh Kumar ever since the panchayat polls began. In fact, they have started hurling personal abuses on him. One YCP leader even asked how Ramesh Kumar could become an IAS officer in the first place. In return, Ramesh also wrote a letter to the Governor seeking action against the Ministers and Advisors for their objectionable remarks.

Sharply reacting this, the YCP Ministers now took their battle to the next level. They gave a privilege notice to the Assembly Speaker saying that they were being insulted by the State Election Commissioner. They charged that the SEC was obstructing with their duties as the MLAs and Ministers. Consequently, there was total suspense as to what action Tammineni Sitaram would take against the SEC.
Analysts say that as usual, the Speaker would also join the YCP leaders in hurling abuses on the SEC just like how he did in respect of Chandrababu Naidu. But, the issue here is that Ramesh Kumar is also the head of a constitutional institution just like Tammineni. It is not constitutionally defendable on the part of the Speaker to unilaterally target the State Election Commission.

However, the political circles were waiting with a bated breath as to what would happen next. On his part, Ramesh Kumar is stepping up his attacks, telling the Chief Minister and his Ministers that it amounts to violation of the election code to pass needless remarks against the SEC.

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Ramesh shadow teams to block YCP unanimous polls

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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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Continuing with Praveen Prakash prejudicial to fair polls: Andhra SEC

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Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Friday wrote to Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, saying that he has invoked plenary powers to transfer senior IAS officer Praveen Prakash, as his continuation in the general administration department is allegedly prejudicial to the free and fair conduct of panchayat elections.

“The commission has come to a conclusion that his continuance is prejudicial to free and fair elections as he is at the fulcrum of the administration, directly dealing with the collectors and SPs, and is privy to influence their action and outcomes against public interest,” claimed Kumar in the letter issued on Thursday.

He alleged that Prakash chose not to implement orders despite specific directives from the commission and held him responsible for failing to receive nominations from the candidates on Monday in accordance with the original schedule, which had to be revised.

“On the basis of the information available and following its discreet enquiries, the commission has reached a well-considered view that the principal secretary was primarily responsible for scuttling the video conference convened on January 23 meant to review the poll preparedness as well as impart instructions to the collectors,” he asserted.

Kumar continued to allege that the bureaucrat had also imparted instructions to the collectors and SPs as well as other officials not to participate in the commission meetings.

“The collectors were apparently instructed not to cooperate with the poll process as well. As a result of the non-preparedness on the part of the district collectors, the commission was forced to reschedule the Phase I of the elections. This is a totally unconscionable act and merits serious action in the fitness of things,” claimed the SEC.

Kumar said that therefore, he had come to an inexorable conclusion that the failure on the part of the state administration to receive the nominations of contesting candidates on Monday was solely attributable to the failure on the part of the general administration department headed by Prakash.

“The State Election Commission invokes its plenary powers under Article 243 read with Article 324 to transfer Prakash, with a view to ensure free and fair elections. He is barred during the course of elections to have interaction with district collectors and superintendents of police and any other officers who either directly or indirectly deal with matters relating to elections,” he ordered.

Kumar said these orders will come into play with immediate effect, highlighting that he is compelled to do so as a few of his earlier orders were not implemented.

He reminded that Prakash acted in a prejudicial way to scuttle polls upheld by a division bench of the high court, headed by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami, and also the Supreme Court.

Prakash is also the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and one of his trusted confidantes.

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No deployment of Central forces for civic body polls: Andhra SEC

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Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Friday said he would conduct the panchayat elections with the help of state government personnel and had no intention to deploy Central forces.

“These elections will happen only with state personnel, we don’t have any intention to use Central forces. We have complete faith in the state personnel who are enough to efficiently conduct the elections,” Kumar added.

He visited the Anantapur district on Friday and met the District Collector Gandham Chandrudu and Superintendent of Police (SP) Satya Yesu Babu to review preparations for the rural local body elections.

In the first phase of the elections for which nominations began on Friday, Kadiri revenue division and 12 ‘mandalams’ are going to the polls on February 9 in the district.

Amadagur, Bukkapatnam, Gandlapenta, Kadiri, Kothacheruvu, NP Kunta, Nallacheruvu, Nallamada, Obuladevaracheruvu, Puttaparthi, Talupula and Tanakal are the 12 mandalams.

Kumar congratulated Chandrudu and Babu for making all the necessary arrangements without requiring him to give any special directives.

However, he said it could be a challenge to handle the difficulties arising from the large inter-state border.

The SEC called upon all people in the state to actively participate in the rural local body elections.

“With your participation, institutions like panchayats will strengthen. When the elections get over quickly, the rural local bodies will also receive their funds and good leadership,” said the former Indian Administrative Service official.

Kumar assured the people of the state that all security arrangements have been made, including stretching polling time from 6.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., as social distancing norms had to be followed.

According to the State Election Commissioner, polling time in pre-Covid times used to be between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

He assured that the last one hour of polling would be allocated to those Covid positive voters interested in exercising their franchise.

“In the last hour, those Covid positive patients who evinced interest to vote will be provided PPE kits and will be allowed to vote. I appreciate the District Collector for making all the arrangements for employees,” Kumar said.

Set to retire on March 31, Kumar has scheduled four-phase panchayat elections, whose process begun on Friday with the nominations for the first phase while the last phase elections would be held on February 21.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Jagan Govt humiliates Ramesh all through elections

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The joy that he could finally get the Supreme Court green signal for the panchayat elections is certainly short-lived for State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar. At every available opportunity, the Jagan Reddy Government has been humiliating and harassing him deliberately and with a definite purpose to demoralise him.

In the latest instance, Ramesh asked the Government for appointing senior IAS officer Ravi Chandra as the new Secretary for the SEC. There was no immediate answer from the administration. But soon, the Government issued orders and appointed Ravi Chandra as the Secretary of the Coronavirus vaccination programme. The objective was clear how the Jagan regime took its sweet revenge. It was citing vaccination that the Government refused to hold the election but the SEC cited elections in different States for going ahead with the panchayat polls.

On top of it all, the Government did not give the Secretary to the SEC till the last minute. As per the court orders to cooperate in the election process, the Government sent a list of three officers to the SEC who did not select any from it. Those three were Vijay Kumar, Raja Babu and Kanna Babu. But the SEC asked for Ravi Chandra services. Disregarding this, the Government just appointed Kanna Babu as the SEC Secretary.

The question is what Ramesh will do if Kanna Babu too will behave oddly and not cooperate.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Remove Jagan photos: Ramesh tells AP Govt

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Yet another controversial decision that Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has taken was about printing of his own photos in the official certificates being issued to the people. Now, this became a serious problem amounting to constitutional violation in the current panchayat elections.

The CM photo is being printed even in the caste and no dues certificates being issued to the contesting candidates. This has naturally embarrassed the Opposition parties which do not like to see Jagan photos in their certificates. Complaints have been made to the State Election Commission already.

In his latest orders, SEC Ramesh Kumar has instructed AP Chief Secretary Adityanath Das to remove photos in the certificates immediately. The SEC told the CS that photos were in violation of the election code. Necessary orders should be issued to the Tehsildars in mandals to delete Jagan photos in all the certificates. The officials should make sure that there would be no bias in the election process.

Ramesh Kumar has been making appeals on several issues like unanimous elections, photos, etc, but the Government is openly disobeying all of them. No wonder, even this small would have to be dragged to level of the Supreme Court for it to be resolved.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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