India

Andhra SEC meets Governor amid row over polls

Vijayawada, March 16 (IANS) The row over postponement of local body elections in Andhra Pradesh continues with State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar calling on Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan on Monday, a day after Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy lodged a complaint against him.

Kumar, who met the Governor at Raj Bhavan here, is understood to have explained to him the reason for postponing the elections to rural and urban local bodies by six weeks.

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Under fire from the Chief Minister for ‘unilateral' decision to postpone the polls, the SEC is believed to have defended his action in the wake of the Centre declaring coronavirus a notified disaster.

Kumar is understood to have conveyed to the Governor that as the state recorded a coronavirus positive case, there was a need for precautionary measures like preventing public gatherings to check the spread of the virus.

The SEC reportedly explained to the governor that the decision was taken in the interest of public health and there was no other motive behind it.

The SEC on Sunday announced postponement of the local body polls scheduled next week. Hours later the chief minister rushed to Raj Bhavan to complain to the governor that the official acted in a unilateral manner.

Subsequently, Jagan Mohan Reddy addressed a news conference to allege that SEC acted at the behest of leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was unable to digest the fact that YSR Congress Party was heading to sweep the polls.

The chief minister said Kumar was appointed by Naidu when the latter was the chief minister and even remarked that they both belong to same caste.

In another development, Chief Secretary Nilam Swahney wrote a letter to SEC, urging him to revoke his order postponing the elections and adhere to the election scheduled announced earlier. She claimed that the situation with regard to coronavirus was fully under control and it did not warrant postponement of the polls.

The developments led to a war of words between YSRCP and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP). While the ruling party decided to move the Supreme Court to challenge the SEC's action, TDP chief Naidu alleged that for the chief minister elections were more important than the people's lives.

–IANS

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