YSR Congress party was keen on conducting the local body poll in March 2020, but the State Election Commissioner (SEC) postponed the elections for six weeks citing the outbreak of coronavirus, and in line with the measures taken by various governments around the world and in India. After the cancellation of the local body polls the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy was furious and even alleged that the SEC was colluding with the opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu and postponing the elections. As the gravity of the issue stood, within a week nationwide lockdown was announced. Gradually, the government at the Centre allowed for activities to resume and the Election Commission of India set strict protocols on how to conduct polls during the current circumstances.
During the whole fiasco, the State government had relieved the SEC of his duties, however, the High Court intervened and reinstated him. Soon after, the SEC called for an all-party meet to deliberate on the issue of local body polls. The YSRCP changed its stance and it was clear with the YSRCP’s non-attendance at the meet. On behalf of the government, a representation through the Chief Secretary Neelam Sawhney was sent stating that the situation is not right for conducting local body elections.
YSRCP leadership despite the rampant spread of coronavirus themselves went door to door to distribute the ration and Rs.1000 announced by the government, expecting the lockdown to be eased soon and in anticipation of the local body polls. This was severely objected by the opposition parties alleging that the ruling party was distributing government welfare in the name of the Chief Minister not the government.
The state government is even keen on opening the schools and accordingly the distribution of the school kits were completed by the government, the schedule for the start of the schools after several postponements was fixed on November 2nd.
The Andhra Pradesh government led by the YSRCP was keen on opening the schools but differed on the commencement of the local body elections. Is it that the children are not prone to coronavirus and have more appropriate social distancing behaviour than adults or is the government afraid of the local body election results?
It is possible that the YSRCP wishes to delay the local body elections for the foreseeable future because of the widespread criticism since the early days with regard to the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Many groups of people were very disappointed with the government decisions and their failure in handling the economic crisis.
Private teachers all over the state were protesting against the failure of the government in helping them out in these times, and questioning the existence of the government as they remained unpaid for more than 7 months.
Construction workers all over the state were very disappointed even before the announcement of the lockdown and now their woes have become severe and they were severely criticizing the government. Not just construction workers, the real estate community at large is very angry with the current government due to non-availability of sand in the state and an ineffective Sand Policy in Andhra Pradesh.
Taxi drivers/Auto drivers were initially happy with the government announcing Rs.10,000 but now they have also begun opposing the government with the state taxes and VAT on petrol and the increase of road tax along with the recent imposition of heavy fines. Farmers, with the recent floods and the poor response of the government in helping out the farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the failure of the government in giving the compensation had angered the farmers and they were also angry against the ruling party.
Coupled with the increase in electricity prices, allocation of several housing sites in the river catchment areas, job loss due to the lockdown, financial loss to several businesses all over the State and the failure of the government in helping the needy citizens illustrate the sentiment that has pushed the party in power to demand for postponement of the local body elections.