Less than a day after the Andhra State Election Commission (SEC) released a notification for holding rural local bodies, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) announced its decision to boycott them. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu expressed doubts over the conduct of the Zilla and Mandal Parishad elections in a free and fair manner.
Interacting with the media at Mangalagiri following the party's polit bureau meet, Naidu, who is also the former Chief Minister, objected to the election notification being issued in haste by the newly-appointed State Election Commissioner Neelam Sawhney, who took charge on Thursday and issued the election notification the same evening.
"The SEC has been reduced to a mere rubber stamp in the Parishad polls," Naidu alleged. The TDP has been asking for a fresh notification of local body elections on account of the Tirupati Lok Sabha bye-poll.
Noting that the SEC was supposed to announce the polls after taking the opinion of all political parties, he said it had announced the dates on its own. "I don't think these polls will be held freely and fairly. Therefore the party has decided not to participate in these polls," Naidu said.
On Thursday, the SEC announced that the ZPTC and MPTC polls would be held on April 8, and results would be declared on April 10. The polls, originally scheduled to be held in 2020, were put on hold by then SEC Ramesh Kumar, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The notification for conducting MPTC and ZPTC elections saw legal tussles between then SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's government. The incident had led to a bitter battle between the two parties for months as they moved court and challenged multiple verdicts.
The BJP and Jana Sena parties also boycotted Friday's all-party meet convened by the SEC. The new SEC convened a meeting with Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das and followed it up with all District Collectors and police officials on poll preparedness.
There are 9,696 MPTCs out of which 2,371 seats were won uncontested, with the ruling YSRCP bagging 2,271 of them. Election will now be held for 7,322 seats. Of the 652 ZPTCs, 126 were won uncontested, all by the YSRCP, and election will now be conducted for 526 seats.