VIJAYAWADA: The State Election Commission (SEC) is all set to issue notification on Saturday at 10 a.m. for the first phase of gram panchayat (GP) elections.
The SEC’s resolve on conduct of polls received a boost after a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court headed by Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami allowed holding of GP elections in its verdict delivered on Thursday.
The notification is scheduled to be issued on Saturday morning even as the Supreme Court is slated to hear on Monday, January 25, the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the AP government seeking setting aside of the HC order.
State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar has, however, decided to go ahead with the notification for organising the polls in four phases on February 5, 9, 13 and 17.
The SEC maintained that both the State Election Commission and state government will coordinate with each other in holding the panchayat elections even as the vaccination programme is on. The state government will implement all safety protocols related to Covid-19, he observed.
Authorities will also provide the requisite equipment and training to staff on safety aspects of holding the polls. Ramesh Kumar lauded medical personnel of both public and private sectors for their dedication in ensuring that Coronavirus is on the retreat.
The election commissioner maintained that the SEC has the same powers as Election Commission of India (ECI) when it comes to conduct of elections for local bodies. He asserted that all concerned officers, departments and district collectors are subordinate to the commission when it comes to poll-related issues. SEC has the final and decisive say when it comes to holding of elections, he underlined.
Earlier, the commissioner called on Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and apprised the latter about the measures being taken for conduct of gram panchayat polls in the Andhra Pradesh. The Governor, in turn, is learnt to have expressed support in holding the elections.
Pointing out that the SEC’s decision on polls has been widely welcomed by various principal stakeholders, the election commissioner warned that any attempts to physically derail the election process by targeting contestants will be dealt with firmly. He directed the police department to keep a close watch on potential troublemakers and deal stringently with any attempts to disturb the polls.