Thursday, May 6, 2021

A.P. Govt., SEC cross swords again

  • SEC releases election schedule
  • SC to take it up on Monday

Amaravati: With the State Election Commissioner issuing the election schedule on Saturday, it is now up to the Supreme Court to decide on the fate of Panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Things had gone wrong in the very beginning when Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government decided not to have elections as long as Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar remained the SEC. Ramesh Kumar was equally determined to hold elections come what may. In fact, it was the SEC who postponed elections, after the process began, in the name of COVID-19. His hunch proved right and carona had invaded AP along with the other States in the country and took its toll. After carona virus appeared to have abated, the SEC started preparations to hold elections. But the State government was not prepared to cooperate. The Chief Secretary has been saying that it will not be possible for the employees to do election work as they are busy with the vaccination work. The SEC had ordered the transfer of two district collectors and half a dozen higher officials. The government is yet to effect the transfers.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had held media conference only once after he took over the reins in June 2019. That was in connection with the controversy regarding holding the Panchayat elections and to repudiate the stand taken by the SEC.

The AP High Court is seized of the matter. When the HC allowed the petition of the Election Commissioner, the government moved the SC. The apex court had kicked the ball into HC. The HC categorically stated that elections have to be held and the orders of the SEC have to be followed. The State government went in appeal to SC but it’s petition was found faulty by the registrar. The SC made it clear that there is no hurry to hear the petition and it could be taken up on Monday.

Also Read:AP HC squashes SEC order

Not to waste his time and the opportunity to go ahead, Ramesh Kumar has issued election notification as first thing on Saturday. Now it will be difficult for SC to stop the process.

Ramesh Kumar is on a strong wicket. After assembly elections were held in Bihar followed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Council elections in the neighbouring State of Telangana, there is no case for not holding Panchayat elections in AP. The excuse of vaccination does not hold water. The government employees have no business to interfere or to decide whether to cooperate with the SEC. They are expected to follow orders of the SEC as long as the process is on. The government, on its part, has to affect the transfers of the bureaucrats as ordered by the SCE.

True that Ramesh Kumar was appointed by Nara Chandrababu Naidu in 2016 and is not trusted by Jagan Mohan Reddy. It is also true that Reddy is a popularly elected chief minister whose party had won a whopping 151 seats out of 175 in AP Assembly in 2019 elections. Jagan Mohan Reddy is a popularly elected chief minister. Ramesh Kumar was nominated by an outgoing chief minister. Whose word has to prevail?  The Constitution shall ultimately prevail. According to the scheme of the Constitution, checks and balances, every functionary has his powers and limitations. However popular the prime minister or a chief minister may be, he has to respect the Chief Election Commissioner and State Election Commissioner respectively. Democracy and governance are possible only through consensus and give and take. If the executive does not get on with election commissioner, the courts would intervene. Suspicions of bias or manipulation cannot be proved. The courts go by the evidence and arguments presented before them. No constitutional authority can take it for granted since they have to reckon with the Constitution.

Also Read:AP govt. and CEC cold war continues

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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