Days after the Andhra Pradesh Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar postponed the local body polls for 6 weeks, which were earlier schedule to be held on March 21, due to Coronavirus threat that still loom, Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andha Pradesh government has asked SEC that how coronavirus will be tackled without the local governance, if electiona aren’t held.
One could argue that the caretakers of the local bodies could act as defacto heads at the panchayat, ward and village level but the election commission has not scrapped the election but extended the duration of the imposition of the Model code of conduct which limits the powers of the existing local leadership even from using discretionary funds. In a situation like this, implementation at the grassroot level (ward,panchayat and village) is not only necessary but mandatory to control the situation.
Other measures like controlling the number of people taking part in the campaigning or putting a bar on public gathering , restricting lines during polling could be formulated to seamlessly conduct the elections without postponement.
This move by the SEC attracted strong criticism from the government of the day headed by CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy himself. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Jagan said ,’ taking decision like this without consulting neither the government nor the beauracracy in the state is unsolicited and bizarre. This move seems to be motivated by political interests. A prior assessment of the situation should’ve been done, government should’ve been asked’.
The big conundrum now for the authorities is, should they go ahead with the polls in a monitored manner with the risk of an outbreak keeping in mind the importance of local governance in tackling Corona or should they postpone the same due to the fear. The government at this point feels that there is no reason to panic as only 1 positive case has been reported in AP by far and proper measures are in place to control future outbreak.