On 8th January 2021, the state witnessed the unfolding of yet another political hi – drama between the government and the Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. Chief Secretary of the state Adhityanath Das, Panchayatraj Secretary Gopala Krishna Dwivedi, and Health Department Chief Secretary Anil Kumar Singhal met with Mr. Ramesh Kumar and explained to the latter that the state government is not in a position to conduct the local body elections due to the possibility of the new strain of the virus and the ground level staff are busy in the COVID vaccination program. Hours after the meeting, SEC announced the schedule of the local body elections and released eight-page proceedings.
According to the schedule, the Panchayat elections will be held in four phases between January 23 to February 11 and the election code would come into effect from 9th January. Reacting to the development, Gopala Krishna Dwivedi said that Mr. Ramesh Kumar has decided to conduct the elections risking the lives of the people. Nimmagadda’s decision is nothing but a violation of the SC orders.
The state employee unions questioned the decision and even announced to boycott the elections. Mr. Ramesh Kumar has written a letter to the employee’s union requesting them to cooperate. In the letter, he tried to address the concerns of the employees. He assured that the election commission will provide PPE kits, face shields, and sanitizers to the election duty staff. The state government on the other hand decided to approach the HC to challenge the decision of SEC.
AP High court suspended the Panchayat polls election notification issued by SEC citing that the election process would hamper the vaccination program. The SEC is contemplating all the available legal options.