'Asked health officials before announcing local body polls': EC denies YSRCP's allegations

Andhra Pradesh Election Commission says they did meet with Health Department officials ahead of meeting with political parties and refuted allegations by YSRCP.
The SEC is a constitutional body and casting aspersions is best avoided as per the best democratic traditions, said Ramesh.
The SEC is a constitutional body and casting aspersions is best avoided as per the best democratic traditions, said Ramesh.
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The Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission (APSEC) on Wednesday refuted allegations by the YSRCP that the Commission had not bothered to meet the state's health officials ahead of holding talks with political parties. The YSRCP had alleged that the decision to hold local body polls were being taken without consulting the Andhra Pradesh government. The Commission while refuting the allegations said they were surprised and saddened by the remarks.

On Tuesday, the Sattenapalli MLA Ambati Rambabu, a senior leader of the YSRCP announced a boycott of the Wednesday meeting with the Commission. The senior leader was scheduled for an hour to meet. As many as 19 political parties were extended an invitation by the AP-SEC for talks about the possibility of holding local body elections, six political parties, namely the YSRCP did not attend the meeting.

The postponing of the local elections have been a point of contention between the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and the state's Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Rambabu said Kumar should have followed the Supreme Court (SC) verdict on the matter before meeting parties. "To resume an election process which ceased once, SC said that the state government's opinion should be taken to proceed further. But the SEC has ignored this," alleged Rambabu.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rambabu said Ramesh Kumar didn't care to consult with the Chief Secretary or the Health and Family Welfare Secretary about the possibility of conducting elections but got ready to talk with political parties.

The commissioner responded by saying that the discussion had already taken place. The Commissioner said he had an hour-long discussion with Anil Kumar Singhal, the health secretary and Katamaneni Bhaskar the commissioner for health on October 27. The same day the boycott by the ruling party was issued. The Commissioner also clarified that the meeting with Nilam Sawhney, chief secretary to the government will be held on October 28 to have the benefit of the Government's views.

Rambabu in his address to the media had said, that in March when the elections were deferred in Andhra Pradesh, there were not even three COVID-19 positive cases in the state, the leader alleged that Ramesh Kumar deferred the elections favouring the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The commissioner expressed surprise, “The Commission is surprised to see a press note attributed to a YSRCP leader stating that the party is not attending the consultation process and alleging the Commission had not bothered to meet the health officials and the Government in the first instance. The facts are otherwise as could be noted.”

The Commissioner further added that “The SEC is a constitutional body and casting aspersions is best avoided as per the best democratic traditions. The commission is saddened at the aspersions on a transparent process undertaken which is a prelude to a stand it has to adopt before the High Court in a PIL related to conducting of elections,”.

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