The YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday challenged the State Election Commission's decision to conduct elections to the gram panchayats and moved a "House Motion petition" in the High Court seeking that the poll process be stalled.
The government did not get any relief as the High Court has not immediately taken up the petition and may consider it on Monday, authoritative sources said.
State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar announced the schedule late on Friday night, overruling the state government's objections against the conduct of the elections, saying the polls to gram panchayats would be held in four phases in February.
The ruling YSR Congress alleged that the SEC is "dancing to the tunes of Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu."
YSRC MP V Vijaya Sai Reddy went on to announce that the gram panchayat elections would be held only in May-June after completion of the impending by-election to the Tirupati Lok Sabha seat.
Taking strong exception to this, the State Election Commissioner wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das that such utterances would conclusively influence the government action (if not already done) vis-a-vis the local body elections.
"It is also indicative that the party (and the government by default) is not in favour of holding elections during the tenure of the present Commissioner and shall hold elections only after my demitting the office (on March 31, 2021)," Ramesh Kumar said in the letter.
The government's official view, however, has been that holding the elections would be difficult in view of the invocation of the National Disaster Management Act.
"The Covid-19 pandemic is tackled along with the vaccination programme being undertaken by the Union Ministry of Health and the whole state machinery would be engaged in the massive operation, " the Chief Secretary said in his reply to the SEC's letter.
But, with the SEC going ahead with the announcement of the poll schedule, the government minced no words in attacking Ramesh Kumar.
"The SEC acted in a pre-determined fashion and stubbornly announced the gram panchayat election schedule without considering the state governments request for further consultations," Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary Gopal Krishna Dwivedi said.
"He did not consult the government while postponing the elections (in March last) and now while announcing the fresh schedule. This exposes the SECs intentions," he said in a statement.
The SEC has put the public health at stake by unilaterally announcing the poll schedule, he alleged.
The AP Non-Gazetted Officers Association president Chandrasekhar Reddy said the government staff would not take part in the poll process as it would jeopardise their lives.
The Revenue Services Association president Bopparaju Venkateswarlu also opposed the SEC decision.
The main opposition Telugu Desam Party welcomed the SEC decision to conduct the gram panchayat elections and said the government's stance on the issue amounted to breakdown of the Constitution.
"The government is supposed to act as per the Constitution but the Jagan regimes acts could lead to constitutional breakdown. Elections are inevitable and even the Supreme Court made it clear that seeking postponement of the polls without reason was not right," TDP senior leader and former minister Alapati Rajendra Prasad said.
He questioned why the YSRC was shying away from the panchayat elections when it claims to have the support of 50 per cent of people.