The ruling YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh has decided to boycott a meeting called by State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. The meeting scheduled for Wednesday was to discuss local body elections. Sattenapalli MLA Ambati Rambabu, a senior leader of the YSRCP, announced the party’s decision.
The SEC called for one-on-one meetings with political parties as he aims to conduct the local body elections, which have already been postponed more than once due to the COVID-19 pandemic and due to an ongoing row between Ramesh Kumar and the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government.
The SEC gave time to parties from 10.30 am on Wednesday in his office to elicit their opinion on conducting the election. However, Rambabu said Kumar should have perused the Supreme Court (SC) verdict 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.
"In this atmosphere, it is not wise to attend the meeting. Ignoring the SC verdict and calling parties for one-to-one meetings is part of Nimaggada-Chandrababu politics," he asserted.
Touching upon the issue of elections which were initially postponed citing the coronavirus pandemic, Rambabu said that when there were not even three infections in the state, certain political parties asked Ramesh Kumar to defer the election, hinting at the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
"Currently, when 3,000 cases are getting recorded and when some people are getting reinfected, Ramesh Kumar is asking if elections can be held. You can understand the motivations behind it and the people behind it," he pointed out.
The ruling party leader claimed that though the YSRCP is confident of winning 100% of the seats in the elections, it is still thinking about the safety of each and every voter. He questioned if Ramesh Kumar will shoulder the responsibility of the safety of 3 crore voters and election staff such as teachers, police and government employees.
"When such a person convenes a meeting in contravention to the SC verdict, without consulting the government, YSRCP rejects his dispensation," he said.
Rambabu claimed that Ramesh Kumar is known as a person who holds dark meetings in Hyderabad’s five star hotels. He said Kumar does not think about elections as a constitutional responsibility but has made a drama out of it. The YSRCP leader was referring to a video that was circulated in the local media that seemingly showed Ramesh meeting with two senior BJP leaders who were known to be close to Chandrababu Naidu
A few months ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic was yet to strike India with full force, the SEC postponed the elections, drawing flak from Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Though the state government later tried sacking the SEC, the court reinstated him, considering the Constitutional protection accorded to the office.
The relationship between the SEC and the state government continues to be strained since then.
(With IANS inputs)