Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], December 4 (ANI): Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has adopted a resolution stating that the present COVID-19 situation is not conducive for the conduct of local body elections in February 2021.
It also adopted a resolution to incorporate suitable legal provisions in the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 to handle such situations.
The tone for the resolutions was set by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, during the short notice discussion on COVID-19, when he said that the coming three months are crucial and people have to be careful in taking all precautions going by the experience in some of the states in the country and the US where there was a spike in cases after elections were held.
Moving a resolution, Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas said, "The State is obligated to ensure the health of its citizens and at the very minimum not to initiate any activity which compromises their life and health. The State machinery has therefore communicated that it would be imprudent to schedule any elections at this time and this resolution has in its context the decision of the State Election Commission to schedule the elections in February 2021."
"The concern for public health cannot be a subject matter of competitive assessment, and the State's bona fide opinion on such matter ought not to have been brushed aside. It is also to be stated that no two states are comparable with regard to the factual situation of the pandemic and its effect. The incidence of COVID-19 which is revealed in view of the intensive testing is eight times more than Bihar and six times of Rajasthan," he said.
Srinivas said that local bodies elections and the legitimacy of the elected members is directly related to the voters' choice.
"If the voters do not turn out to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives out of fear of Covid-19 and danger to their lives, it deprives them of their fundamental right to vote which is the foundation of a true democracy and may result in an elected body not being true representative of the people," he said.
"Any hasty conduct of elections may distract the warriors from dealing with the pandemic. The staff required is about 5 lakhs and most of them have been representing not to participate in the situation by conduct of the elections in the near future," he added.
The Minister stated that the Section 197(6) of the Telangana Pachayati Raj Act mandates that the schedule and the date of the elections shall be decided by the State Election Commission (SEC) in concurrence with the State Government.
"Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act does not have such a provision. In this State, an unseemly situation has arisen, where the unilateralism of the SEC has been noticed even by the Supreme Court of India, which directed that further decisions after the initial postponement of the Panchayat elections, shall be in consultation with the state," he said.
"A suitable legal provisions in the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 will be incorporated to handle such situations," he added.
Earlier, in November Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney replied to State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar letter regarding local body elections stating that "it is not possible to conduct local body elections" amid the ongoing situation due to coronavirus pandemic. (ANI)