Hyderabad: N. Ramesh Kumar, AP State Election Commissioner, will elicit views from all political parties on conducting polls to local bodies which were earlier postponed by the SEC following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday.
The SEC has decided to call the representatives of political parties individually and obtain their views in writing. The exercise gains significance in the backdrop of the state government opposing the holding the polls at this juncture and the AP High Court taking up a batch of writ petitions that have pressed for conducting the elections on November 2.
The government has already informed the High Court of its view to not hold the polls as the prevalence of Covid-19 is still high.
Sources told Deccan Chronicle that the SEC, while conveying the views of all parties, would also express its preparedness to conduct the polls.
The ruling YSR Congress has decided to boycott the meeting with the SEC. Party general secretary and MLA Ambati Rambabu in a statement questioned the very exercise as the Supreme Court had given clear instructions to the SEC to resume the poll process only after consulting the state government.
Further, Rambabu said, the motives of Ramesh Kumar were doubtful as he had unilaterally postponed the elections when there were just three Covid-19 cases in the state but was now initiating the process when more than 3,000 cases are being reported every day.
The state witnessed an ugly war between the government and the SEC following a series of incidents that started with Ramesh Kumar’s decision to put off the polls and the government removing him from the post. The government was forced to reinstate him as SEC after losing a legal battle both in the High Court and the Supreme Court.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who openly accused Ramesh Kumar of being biased towards the Telugu Desam is said to be keen to not hold polls till the latter demits office in March 2021. Apart from the pandemic, the YSRC is likely to express its lack of faith in that SEC that it will conduct free and fair polls.
The ruling dispensation, however, is not sure if the Chief Minister will have his way in dragging the poll process. “The Election Commission of India is conducting Assembly polls in Bihar and bypolls in several states. How far the court will be convinced about postponement of local body polls in the state is the question,” a minister said.
In two recent cases, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar had upheld the supremacy of the Election Commissions, both at Central and state levels, in deciding the conduct of elections and the manner in which they would be held, he added.