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AP Assembly Resolves Against Local Body Polls

AP Assembly Resolves Against Local Body Polls

In a move to checkmate Andhra Pradesh state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar who is planning to conduct local body elections with the support from state high court, the state assembly on Friday adopted a resolution against the move.

The resolution also proposed to incorporate suitable legal provisions in AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, to prevent conduct of local body elections against the wishes of the state government.

The tone was set by the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, during the short notice discussion on Covid-19, when he said that the coming three months were very crucial and people should be careful taking all precautions going by the experience in some of the states in the country and the US there was a spike in cases after elections were held.  

Moving a resolution, health minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas alias Nani said the state was obligated to ensure the health of its citizens and at the very minimum not to initiate any activity which compromises their life and health.

“The State machinery has therefore communicated that it would be imprudent to schedule any elections at this time and this resolution has in its context the decision of the State Election Commission to schedule the elections in February 2021,” he said.

He said the concern for public health cannot be a subject matter of competitive assessment, opination etc. and the State's bona fide opinion on such matter ought not to have been brushed aside. 

“No two states are comparable with regard to the factual situation of the pandemic and its effect. The incidence of COVID-19 which is revealed in view of the intensive testing is 8 times more than Bihar and 6 times of Rajasthan”, he said. 

“Local bodies elections and the legitimacy of the elected members is directly related to the voters' choice. If the voters do not turn out to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives out of fear of Covid-19 and danger to their lives, it deprives them of their fundamental right to vote which is the very foundation of a true democracy and may result in an elected body not being true representative of the people” he said. 

“Therefore, the spirit of the consultative process Is breached, and appropriate legislative interventions may be needed in due course of time and the government should take suitable action in this regard,” Nani said.

The minister further pointed out that the decision regarding the same could be best arrived in due effective and respectful consultation between the Government and the constitutional Authorities on further receding of Covid-19. 

Any hasty conduct of elections may distract the warriors from dealing with the pandemic. The staff required is about 5 lakhs and most of them have been representing to not to participate in the situation by conduct of the elections in the near future, he said. 

“While the assembly recognizes with respect, the independence of the constitutional bodies specifically conferred with powers, it notes that unilateral decisions without considering bona fide concerns of elected government would be inconsistent with the Constitutional scheme” he added.

In fact, in Telangana Section 197(6) of the PR act mandates that the schedule and the date of the PRls elections shall be decided by the SEC in concurrence with the State Government. The AP PR Act does not have such a provision. 

“In this State, an unseemly situation has arisen, where the unilateralism of the SEC has been noticed even by the Supreme Court of India, which directed that further decisions after the initial postponement of the PRI elections, shall be in consultation with the state,” the minister added.

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