Andhra Pradesh Election Commission has defended the decision to postpone the local body elections for six weeks in the State citing health advisory issued by the Union government.
A notification issued by the State Election Commission (SEC) "In the contest of certain aspersions cast on the decisions taken by the State Election Commission, the factual clarification is as follows - the Government of India issued a health advisory to the states to -avoid larger public gatherings some time back. On March 14, the Government of India had classified coronavirus as a 'disaster' and kept the nation in a state of preparedness. The State Election Commissioner did contact national level functionaries before taking a decision on the threat 'Corona' posed. If the aforesaid warning is de-escalated, the State Election Commission will restart the election process without loss of a single day."
The Commission added that the elections will be held prior to six weeks if the threat of the virus decreases. Regarding the allegations of violence during the ongoing election process, levied by opposition parties, the SEC said "Violence in the ongoing elections is a matter that is engaging the attention of the Commission and various political parties have been highlighting the surge of violence. This is also a subject matter in ongoing litigation before the High Court in Writ Petition (PIL) No. 65 of 2020 in which the State Election Commission is the respondent. The State Election Commission is a Constitutional body and the Commissioner is at par, with the Judge of High Court. All the safeguards available to a Judge of High Court are applicable to the State Election Commissioner. To attribute motives for the acts of a Constitutional functionary are highly regretted and will only weaken the institution," it read.
In a notification issued earlier, State Election Commissioner, N Ramesh Kumar, stated that the new dates for the local body polls will be finalized later taking into account the Coronavirus threat situation in the country. Reportedly, the State EC also stated that the process of elections will not be cancelled.