In a major setback to the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan asked for implementation of a High Court order which sought to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner (SEC).
The row relates to Nimmagadda challenging his removal as the SEC earlier this year after a tussle with the ruling YSRCP government. While the High Court ordered that he must be reinstated, the state government moved the Supreme Court, which refused to stay the order but agreed to hear the case.
Nimmagadda has also demanded that a contempt case must be filed against the state government for its failure to implement High Court orders.
Following Nimmagadda's representation to the Governor, Raj Bhavan authorities issued a response to him, which said that Harichandan examined the representation and directed the government “for taking necessary action as per the directions of the High Court.”
The tussle between the Jagan Mohan Reddy government and Nimmagadda surfaced in March after the latter postponed local body elections indefinitely in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, which did not go down well with the ruling YSRCP.
Stating that the move was taken as a precautionary measure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nimmagadda had also cited incidents of violence and alleged threats to opposition party candidates, and recommended the transfers of a few police officers and district-level officials.
On April 10, an ordinance promulgated by the state government to shorten the tenure of the SEC, forced Nimmagadda to step down from his post. Retired Madras High Court judge Justice V Kanagaraj was appointed in his place. However, the HC set aside the government’s decision and ordered that Nimmagadda must be reinstated.
The appointment of Justice Kanagaraj as SEC had also become a point of contention, with critics asking if a retired judge is apt for the position as he would be custodian of conducting the elections for local bodies in the state.
The YSRCP government has repeatedly alleged that Nimmagadda was being backed by the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for the sake of ‘furthering their own interests.’