AP opposition slam SEC over zilla parishad territorial constituencies poll notification

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Amaravati,Apr 2 (PTI) The new State Election Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh Nilam Sawhney came under fire from the opposition parties for the 'undemocratic' manner in which she notified the elections to mandal parishad and zilla parishad territorial constituencies late on Thursday night.

The main opposition Telugu Desam Party announced it was boycotting the elections to the second and the third tiers of the Panchayat Raj system while the BJP moved the state High Court challenging the SEC notification.

The TDP, BJP, Jana Sena and CPI boycotted the all-party meeting called by the SEC on Friday while the Congress registered its protest and walked out of the meeting.

Only the ruling YSR Congress, CPI(M) and Telangana Rashtra Samiti representatives attended the meeting.

The SEC justified the notification, resuming the MPTC and ZPTC election process that was stalled in March last year, saying 'time is running out' and it was not good to further delay the polls.

Within hours after assuming charge as the SEC, Sawhney who previously served as the state Chief Secretary issued a notification late on Thursday night fixing April 8 as the date of election for the MPTCs and ZPTCs.

What angered the opposition parties was the fact that the notification was issued even before the scheduled meeting of all parties, literally making it infructuous.

'Why is the poll notification issued abruptly when the SEC invited political parties for a meeting? What is the SEC's motive behind this? What's the point of all-party meeting after the notification is issued,' CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna asked.

The notification was issued in an 'undemocratic' manner when four weeks time should have been taken for conduct of MPTC and ZPTC elections, state Congress working president Sheik Mastanvali said, adding that the SEC should not act as an agent of the government.

Jana Sena spokesman P Mahesh found fault with the SEC decision when the issue was pending disposal in the High Court.

'Our petition for a fresh notification is pending in the High Court but the SEC undemocratically announced the schedule...Could she not wait till the court delivered its verdict,' Mahesh questioned.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu announced that they were boycotting the MPTC and ZPTC elections as they became 'totally undemocratic'.

'She issued the notification immediately after taking charge as the SEC.Sawhney has become a rubber stamp of the government,' Chandrababu alleged.

He said the TDP could not become a party to such 'undemocratic' acts and has hence taken a 'tough decision' under inevitable circumstances to protest the SEC's actions.

'We are pained over this but we have taken the decision to raise an awakening among people on the prevailing situation in the state,' the former Chief Minister noted.

Sawhney observed that elections to local bodies were pending for a long time.'We have a responsibility to complete the elections. We issued the notification after reviewing all aspects,' she maintained.

As the election process was stalled midway (in March last year), it was not good to delay it further, Sawhney old reporters.

The SEC also mentioned the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme for the decision on resumption of MPTC and ZPTC polls.PTI DBV BN BN