Saturday, June 19, 2021

COVID-19 situation not conducive for holding civic polls, Andhra CS tells SEC

West Bengal allows standalone liquor shops to reopen, except in containment zones

Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney has written a letter to State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar, requesting him to re-examine his decision to conduct the local body elections in February 2021. She said that the situation is not yet conducive and that a comparison cannot be drawn with other States as the strategies followed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are different.

Ms. Sawhney said there was a need to tread the path cautiously and the approach to the elections (which were postponed in March this year due to the outbreak of COVID) should be calibrated.

She observed that the overall high positivity, the large number of active cases and the spread to rural areas are a cause for grave concern. Hence, it might not be good to lower the guard as the Central government warned the States of possible spread of the disease during the winter months.

Moreover, the State could not afford another surge, having already lost 6,890 lives.

Ms. Sawhney further said the government would inform the SEC about its preparedness to conduct the polls as and when the situation becomes conducive for resuming the adjourned elections.

“Taking a decision for holding elections during a particular period may not be in the best interest of the safety and health of citizens. It is therefore kindly urged that the Commission may re-examine any decision in this regard”, the CS stated.

On Tuesday, the SEC announced that the elections to local bodies would be held in February and the schedule would be finalised in consultation with the State government, considering the successful conduct of elections in various parts of the country.

It may be noted that the government and the State Election Commission have been at odds with each other since the postponement of elections in March purportedly due to COVID.

The government had alleged that the SEC’s decision to defer the polls was unilateral and attributed motives to it.

The issue then snowballed into a major controversy leading to Mr. Ramesh Kumar’s removal from the post of SEC and the intense legal battle that followed. The High Court had ruled in favour of postponement of the elections and the judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court. Mr. Kumar was reinstated in August as per the High Court directions.

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