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Will AP Local Body Poll Process Be Cancelled?

Will AP Local Body Poll Process Be Cancelled?

With Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar resuming charge as the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC), doubts are being raised over the possibility of conducting the local body elections during his tenure.

Apparently, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government does not want the elections to mandal parishads, zilla parishads and municipalities be held during the tenure of Ramesh Kumar, for it is said to be of the firm view that he would favour the Telugu Desam Party by ordering transfer of officials and police people.

Sources said it was precisely for this reason that the Jagan government brought in a fresh ordinance on Tuesday making amendments to the panchayat raj act, which sough to reduce the period of election process to 15 days and take stern action against those who are caught distributing money and liquor during the campaign by disqualifying them from contesting the elections for five years.

The ordinance was first brought in on February 19. The opposition parties, particularly, the TDP had strongly opposed this ordinance since they feared that reduction of poll process duration to 15 days would help the ruling party.

Moreover, they expressed apprehensions that the police would file false cases on the opposition candidates on the pretext that they were in possession of cash and liquor in the elections. There were instances of the police dumping liquor bottles in the residences of the opposition candidates and later fixing them in cases.

In March, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar issued the notification for local polls based on this ordinance. But even before the nomination process was on, he postponed the elections on the pretext of Corona virus.

Now, the ordinance issued on February 19 will lapse on August 20. But, in the meantime, the state government convened the state legislature to pass the budget on June 16. As per the rules, the ordinance has to be introduced in the legislature and passed it as a bill within six weeks of commencement of the assembly session.

Though the bill was passed in the state assembly on June 16, it was not introduced in the council, as the state government focussed on the two capitals bills. As a result, the six-week period has lapsed on July 27.

While admitting that the previous ordinance could not be passed as a bill in the state legislature by July 27, the Jagan government brought in a fresh ordinance on Tuesday, even as the tenure of the previous ordinance still valid till August 20. 

This has led to a peculiar situation, wherein the state election commission has to complete the process for local body elections before August 20, which means within another 15 days. But Nimmagadda, who postponed the elections in the past on the pretext of Corona pandemic, will not be able to conduct the elections in such a short period.

So, he has no other option but to cancel the whole process. The government, too, will not insist on the local body polls so urgently citing Covid-19 situation.

It means, the chances of issuing a fresh notification will not be there till next year, by which time Nimmagadda will complete his tenure!

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