VIJAYAWADA: The State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday informed the Andhra Pradesh High Court that not a single file pertaining to the postponement of local elections are available in its office nor are there any written records or reports from either the Central government or the State Health Department on the coronavirus threat — the reason cited for deferring the elections for six weeks by former State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar.
Rama Sundar Reddy, secretary, SEC, filed a counter-affidavit in the court, throwing light on the actions of the former SEC Ramesh Kumar before he deferred the local elections in March. “SEC announced the election schedule on March 3 after consulting the State government. Notifications for elections to ZPTC, MPTC and municipal corporations, municipalities and panchayats were issued on March 7 and 9. On March 15, Ramesh Kumar held a press conference and announced that elections are deferred by six weeks or till the Covid-19 intensity subsides.
He did not consult any officer in the government. He kept the decision a secret,” Reddy said in the affidavit. Revealing more startling information, Reddy said Ramesh Kumar informed the chief secretary the same day of his decision to defer the polls but keep model code of conduct in force. In a second letter to the chief secretary, Ramesh Kumar ordered transfer of Chittoor, Guntur collectors, and Guntur rural and Chittoor urban SPs. Similarly, he ordered suspension of Macherla CI and DSPs of Palamaneru, and Srikalahasti and CIs of Punganoor, Rayadurgam, and Tadipatri. “However, Ramesh Kumar did not cite any reason for the suspension and transfer of the officials,” Reddy said, adding that the SEC office did not also maintain note files on complaints lodged by political parties or media reports.
“Ramesh Kumar did not seek any information for the transfer of the officials. He issued a press release on March 15 stating that he had consulted Central government officials on the coronavirus situation. But the SEC has no file on the matter,” Reddy submitted in the affidavit. Reddy further submitted that the SEC has nothing to do with allegations levelled by Ramesh Kumar and said the SEC was in agreement with the Panchayat Raj Department’s view on the ordinance issued by the State government changing the tenure and eligibility of the SEC.