This Article is From Jan 25, 2021

"Seek Guidance": Andhra Pradesh To Centre On Top Court's OK For Local Polls

The State Election Commission announced polls on February 5, 9, 13 and 17 - a decision the Andhra Pradesh government contested in the Supreme Court on Monday

'Seek Guidance': Andhra Pradesh To Centre On Top Court's OK For Local Polls

Andhra Pradesh government had wanted polls to be deferred because of Covid (File)


Hours after the Supreme Court dismissed a plea by the Andhra Pradesh government to defer February panchayat polls because of the Covid pandemic, the Chief Secretary of the State wrote to the Union Health Secretary to highlight "logistical problems" of conducting an election while frontline workers - including police and polling officials - have yet to be vaccinated.

In his letter, Aditya Nath Das said vaccination of around seven lakh frontline workers - including the tens of thousands of police and other officials needed to hold the election - had been scheduled for after the vaccination of around 3.8 lakh doctors and healthcare workers.

"The same frontline workers would be deployed to multiple locations by sending them to different polling groups... will lead to huge logistical problems and the polling personnel will not be able to be vaccinated as session site allocated will be based on home/office location but they will be deployed elsewhere," Mr Das wrote.

"Those who are vaccinated for the first dose at one location will not be available at the same location for second dose," he added.

Mr Das also said protocol required a period of observation to monitor for adverse effects and that "following vaccination it is advisable the recipients are not put to un-necessary stress..."

The state government had earlier estimated that vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers would only be completed by February 28.

The State Election Commission has announced polls over four phases - February 5, 9, 13 and 17 - a decision the Andhra Pradesh government contested at the High Court and Supreme Court.

"In the above backdrop (of the top court allowing polls to take place) we seek your guidance to achieve twin objectives of vaccination and conduct of elections," Mr Das concluded.

State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar, who is due to retire by April, and the Jaganmohan Reddy government have been at odds over these polls.

The state wanted the polls to be held at the start of the pandemic, but the SEC was against it.

In May, the ruling YSR Congress removed him, alleging his actions were politically motivated. This was later countered by the High Court, which ordered him reinstated.

Now, the two sides have swapped positions, and presented before the Supreme Court on Monday.

The court refused to let itself get caught in an "ego battle" between the two sides, and also expressed disappointment over resolutions against the State Election Commissioner.

It also said "states have conducted elections during COVID-19" and declined the plea to defer.