Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India], January 26 (ANI): Advisor to Andhra Pradesh government on public policy, and Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy on Monday said that the government respects the verdict of Supreme Court and the state government will proceed to conduct the gram panchayat elections as per the new schedule announced by the State Election Commission (SEC).
Reddy said that the government has no pretentions regarding the conduct of gram panchayat elections. He reiterated that the government approached the Apex Court keeping public health in mind.
While speaking to media on the matter of Supreme Court's verdict on the conduct of gram panchayat elections, Reddy said that the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar did not consider the fears of employees' unions.
"SEC Kumar did not consider that the employees have to risk their lives for the conduct of elections. We doubt there is a conspiracy behind SEC conducting gram panchayat elections instead of holding the Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) and Zilla Praja Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) elections which were postponed," Reddy told reporters.
"Even now the SEC has no intention to hold consultations with the state government. He wrote a letter to the central government seeking the services of central government employees for the conduct of elections. That is not correct and meaningless," he added.
Reddy further said that the state government employees expressed their objections to take part in the polling process, adding that the central government employees will also have the same problem.
Reddy further reasoned that the state government's special leave petition in the apex court was only made keeping public health as a priority.
"If anything happens to the employees, the responsibility will be that of SEC only. We asked to postpone the elections not to gain upper hand over anybody, but for the sake of public health only. It is difficult to conduct elections and COVID vaccination at the same time," he said.
"We will discuss with the centre on how to proceed with vaccination. There is a conspiracy behind SEC's persistence for the conduct of polls. We do not have any ego issues with anybody. As a party, YSRCP is not afraid of facing elections. We are confident of winning any elections. We fought for the sake of public health only," he added.
Reddy further said that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has held discussions with senior leaders of the party and senior officials.
"They discussed the Supreme Court verdict on gram panchayat elections. They reviewed the possibilities of conducting the panchayat polls. They decided to cooperate with the State Election Commissioner for the conduct of gram panchayat elections," he said.
The Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission on Monday rescheduled the dates for the first phase of the gram panchayat elections. The first phase will now take place on February 21.
As per the State Election Commission, this will reshuffle the phases that had been initially planned. The previously scheduled second, third and fourth phases will now be the first, second and third respectively.
The dates for the new fourth phase elections will be as follows - date of issue of notice is February 10, last day for nominations is February 12, scrutiny of nominations will take place on February 13, and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is February 16.
Counting of votes and declaration of results will also be on February 21.
The (now) first, second and third phases will take place on February 19, February 13 and February 17.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the State Election Commission's (SEC) order to hold Panchayat polls in the state.
Andhra Pradesh government had challenged the order of the state SEC on the ground of vaccination drive to stop the polls in the state.
A bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul dismissed the petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government on the issue. (ANI)