Urban local body elections in Andhra Pradesh to resume after COVID-19 interruption; voting on March 10, results on March 14

Published : February 16, 2021 15:22 IST

Andhra Pradesh Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. A file picture. Photo: U. SURBAMANYAM

The process to re-start the COVID-19-interrupted electoral process to 87 urban local bodies, including 12 municipal corporations, in Andhra Pradesh has commenced. Voting will take place on March 10, and the results will be declared on March 14. The municipal corporation elections will be conducted in Vizianagaram, Greater Visakhapatnam, Eluru, Vijayawada, Machilipatnam, Guntur, Ongole, Chittoor, Tirupati, Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur.

On February 15, the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission issued a notification to resume the electoral process to the urban local bodies and municipal corporations, an election process originally scheduled for last March. The SEC had started the election process for the urban local bodies on March 9, 2020, and by March 14, 2020, had proceeded until the stage of scrutiny of nominations. However, the SEC stopped the process on March 15 citing the risk of conducting elections during a pandemic.

The elections to the urban local bodies and municipal corporations, got embroiled in legal controversies when Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his government accused the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar of postponing the elections at the behest of the opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, to favour the electoral prospects of the latter’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In a bid to have Ramesh Kumar removed, the Andhra Pradesh government even curtailed the tenure of the SEC through an ordinance. But Ramesh Kumar took the government to court and eventually won the legal battle when the Supreme Court directed the government to reinstate him as SEC.

With the issuing of the election notification to the urban local bodies and municipal corporations, Ramesh Kumar announced that the Model Code of Conduct had come into force in the urban areas of Andhra Pradesh from February 15. “It shall remain in force till the completion of the election process,” he said. Ramesh Kumar added: “The State Election Commission decided to resume the paused election process for urban local bodies from the stage where it was stopped on March 15, 2020, from the stage of withdrawal of candidature.”

The SEC’s notification pertains to the resumption of the electoral process with respect to 12 municipal corporations, as well as 75 nagar panchayats in 13 districts, restarting from the stage of ‘withdrawal of candidature’. The withdrawal of candidature will recommence from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on March 2. While the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers of candidates is March 3, the publication of the final lists of contestants is scheduled for the same day. March 13 has been set aside as the date for the conducting of any re-election, should the need arise.

The SEC announcement of municipal corporation elections comes even as the four-phased rural local bodies elections in Andhra Pradesh are under way. Two of the four phases have been completed, with the final phase scheduled for February 21. Results to these elections will be announced on February 21.

After two rounds of elections to the Andhra Pradesh rural local bodies, results have favoured Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, his Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party, and candidates backed by the party. The TDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party are way behind in second and third place, respectively.

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