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Andhra to proceed with rural local body polls

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Amaravati, Jan 25 (IANS) With the Supreme Court dismissing Andhra Pradesh government’s petition to defer the rural local body polls, the state government on Monday decided to proceed with the elections.

“We respect the Supreme Court’s decision and the government machinery is going ahead with the elections,” said Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, Advisor (public affairs) to the Andhra Pradesh government.

Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy said that the government has announced financial incentives for unanimous elections and called upon the people to avail them.

He said that the government has amended the laws to punish people who influence the polls by offering money, liquor or just simply by blocking people from voting freely, and the violators will be jailed for two years and also get disqualified in case they are elected fraudulently.

“People should take note of all these changes for peaceful elections,” said Peddireddy.

Municipal Administration Minister Botcha Satyanarayana said the state government welcomes the Supreme Court judgment. “In accordance with the judgment, the government wishes to hold unbiased elections,” said Satyanarayana.

As the Covid vaccination drive is being carried out as per the directions of the Central government, he said a meeting was convened under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

He said that a letter has been sent to the cabinet secretary, health department and the home ministry as frontline staff who will be on election duty are also scheduled for vaccination.

“We asked the Centre how to go about with the vaccination and what standard operating procedures to be followed. We will go ahead as directed,” he said.

Satyanarayana said the ruling party will come out with flying colours in the rural local body elections.

Earlier during the day, right after the SC’s ruling, senior YSR Congress Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP V. Vijayasai Reddy had said that the government would peruse the court decision and decide how to go ahead.

“There is no chance for an ego clash. The SEC has taken its decision, and so has the government. The reasons for the government’s decision were also explained. We told for what reasons we could not go ahead with the elections to the high court and the Supreme Court. We will come to a decision after examining the court’s decision,” he said.

Likewise, the employee unions have also voiced their concerns, but clarified that they are not against the elections.

“Those who will be on election duty will participate. We are only telling not to compel us. The Election Commission will not directly tell us to participate as we get the directives from the government,” said an employee association representative.

He also said that those employees with health issues should be exempted from election duty.




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