A group of intellectuals, activists and other prominent personalities, led by Chevella former MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy and professor Kodandaram, has written an open letter to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to postpone the scheduled municipal elections in the wake of the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Telangana.
The state is set to hold the elections to two municipal corporations and five municipalities on April 30. With polling dates nearing, ruling TRS and BJP are busy campaigning and holding election rallies in their respective municipalities, including Khammam and Warangal Municipal Corporations.
The letter pointed out that it is inhuman to conduct municipal elections when people are panicking amid the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to the infectious disease. "Instead of implementing measures to contain the virus, the government's persistence on conducting elections is indirectly accelerating the transmission of the virus.This has already been proven by the rapid increase in the number of cases during campaigning for Nagarjuna Sagar bye-elections, due to which a couple of dozens of state leaders got affected by coronavirus, including the Chief Minister," read the letter.
Pointing out that elections have also been driving the mass transmission of COVID-19 in the country, they said, "These (municipal) elections do not directly impact the state's functioning, so there is no harm in postponing them for another six months or so."
Besides Vishweshwar Reddy and Kodandaram, the open letter was signed by prominent educationist Dr Chukka Ramaiah, professor PL Vishweshwar Rao, senior journalist Ramachandramurthy, professor Rama Melkote and Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, the Managing Editor of The Siasat Daily.
While highlighting that there are nearly 6,000 cases per day, the group also pointed to the lack of medical infrastructure, medicines, rapid test kits,ventilators and oxygen. They also said that there is a need to declare a health emergency to prevent the further spread of the virus.
The letter further stated, "Vaccination must be made available across the state. Elections to various state Assemblies are by no means an excuse to conduct Municipal Elections in our state."
The group also urged CM KCR to direct the State Election Commission (SEC) to postpone the elections in accordance with the protection of the right to life, which is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.