Andhra Pradesh

Post HC verdict, SEC sounds the poll bugle

With the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court setting aside the interim stay ordered by the single judge on the conduct of gram panchayat elections, the State Election Commission (SEC) has asserted that elections to the local bodies will take place in four phases – February 5, 9, 13 and 17.

State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar, in a statement on Thursday, said the Division Bench cleared the decks for the conduct of the gram panchayat elections in the State.

The SEC would, accordingly, go ahead with the elections as per the schedule notified earlier, he said.

‘High-level meet soon’

“A meeting with the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, the District Collectors and the Superintendents of Police will be convened at the earliest to discuss the arrangements to be made of the elections,” Mr. Ramesh Kumar said.

“The State government has submitted an undertaking to the court that it shall do everything possible for holding the gram panchayat elections and shall not seek change in dates,” he pointed out.

The Model Code of Conduct had come into effect following the judgment, he said.

ln the rural areas, people’s representatives shall not be associated with the distribution of benefits that would influence the electorate, he made it clear. The Chief Secretary had already been advised to to bring this to the notice of the District Collectors.

Safety protocol

Mr. Ramesh Kumar said that the SEC was concerned about the safety of the electoral staff and the electorate as well.

“A comprehensive safety protocol has already been incorporated in its proceedings by way of guidance to the government. The government shall take all measures to ensure safety of the poll staff as well as the voters,” he said, and added that “law and order continues to be the focus area in the light of past experiences.”

“The SEC solicits the cooperation of all the stakeholders for ensuing a fair and peaceful elections, and urges the voters in particular to exercise their franchise to strengthen the gram panchayats as they play a significant role in managing, among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic,” he observed

“The elections in Andhra pradesh are held in terms of the constitutional mandate as being the case elsewhere in the country. Elections to gram panchayats in particular is a process of empowerment as envisioned by the 73rd Amendment,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 10:34:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/post-hc-verdict-sec-sounds-the-poll-bugle/article33629484.ece

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