India

SEC issues notification for the first phase Gram Panchayat polls in A.P. amidst raging legal battle


As per the notification released at a press conference here, elections will be held in 14 revenue divisions covering 146 Mandals in 11 districts on February 5, for which nominations have to be filed before 5 p.m. on January 27.

The conflict between the A.P. government and the State Election Commission (SEC) over holding Gram Panchayat (GP) elections reached a flashpoint on January 23 with commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar issuing a notification for the first phase of the four-phase elections even as the government’s petition in the Supreme Court against the High Court order permitting elections to be held as per schedule is due for hearing on January 25.

As per the notification released at a press conference here, elections will be held in 14 revenue divisions covering 146 Mandals in 11 districts on February 5, for which nominations have to be filed before 5 p.m. on January 27.

Addressing media persons, Mr. Kumar said the High Court believed the SEC fixed the election schedule after duly taking the safety of voters and government employees into consideration, and insisted that the elections be held in tandem with the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

He asked why employees unions should object to the GP elections in February, when local body and Assembly polls were successfully undertaken in many States. There has already been an inordinate delay of nearly two-and-a-half years in conducting the elections and the SEC ought to fulfil it’s Constitutional responsibility, he said.

Referring to Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das and Director General of Police Gautam Sawang as “mature officers”, Mr. Kumar said he had no personal enmity against them. He hoped the government would extend cooperation for the smooth conduct of the elections. He warned that the government would have to bear responsibility and pay a price if the election process was obstructed.

He said the Panchayat Raj Department (PRD) had failed in discharging its duties. Further, Mr. Kumar said the SEC was adopting the 2019 electoral rolls in the absence of the final ones for 2021, which should have been made available by the PRD. Youth who attained more than 18 years of age would be forfeiting their right to vote due to the adoption of 2019 rolls.

Appropriate action would be taken against the derelict officials of PRD Mr. Kumar said, adding that due attention would be paid to ‘unanimous elections’ and an Inspector General-rank police officer posted to check electoral malpractices and offences.

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