Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar is moving with determination to hold the rural local body polls in four phases in the light of the high court allowing the elections, while the Supreme Court is yet to take a call on it.
“The SEC and the government will coordinate for holding the elections as well as for the vaccination programme. Keeping in view the exigencies, the commission is holding a four-phase election that would take place on February 2, 9, 13 and 17,” said Kumar.
Kumar will issue the notification for Phase I elections at 10 a.m. on Saturday at a press conference.
Amid conflicting signals from the State Election Commission (SEC), the government and employee unions, Kumar reminded that in all matters of elections pertaining to the local bodies, the SEC will have the same powers as the Election Commission of India (ECI), citing the Supreme Court ruling in the Kishan Singh Tomar vs Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad case.
He also cited the recent Andhra Pradesh High Court ruling which said the commissioner was acting on legitimate exercise of power that he has and the court would be slow to draw adverse inference.
Kumar also addressed several other concerns at length and recommended the removal of certain ‘tainted’ officials from election duty.
He recommended the removal of the district collectors of Guntur and Chittoor, Tirupati Urban superintendent of police and a bunch of junior police officers.
Meanwhile, the state government employee unions continue to hold the stance that they are not ready to take up election duty amid the Covid pandemic and vaccination drive.
One of their representatives said they would be ready for elections once they receive both the doses of the vaccine.
Kumar had scheduled a meeting with senior Panchayat Raj officials at 3 p.m. However, they did not turn up, forcing him to reschedule the meeting at 5 p.m. However, the Panchayat Raj officials, principal secretary Gopalkrishna Dwivedi and commissioner Girija Shankar later went to the SEC’s office and handed over a letter and left.