Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh state election commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, on 17 March, clarified his move to postpone the local elections and said it was done in view of the Coronavirus outbreak in the city. In a three-page letter addressed to the chief secretary, Neelam Sahney, the SEC said, “The state Election Commission is duly following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and the ministry of health and family welfare.”
Regarding the withdrawal of funds, he said he knows what the finance department is and how to deal with issues related to finance. “Before my assignment with Raj Bhavan, I worked as the secretary of finance. I know how to handle issues related to drawing funds from the Central government,” the SEC said. He said that West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Odisha have also postponed the elections and suggested that the chief secretary not link the finance commission funds with the local body elections. The SEC also said that in the past funds were withdrawn even when elections were postponed. Even Goa is contemplating postponing the elections, the SEC said. Mr Ramesh Kumar said he was deeply saddened by the personal criticisms against him.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy had slammed Mr Ramesh Kumar for just reading out the orders issued by somebody regarding the postponement of elections. “The commissioner issued a four-page order about which the secretary of the commission didn’t have a clue. Neither the chief secretary nor the health secretary was consulted before the commissioner announce his decision,” the CM had said, expressing suspicion that somebody was behind the postponement conspiracy.
On one hand, he (the SEC) has announced the decision to scrap the election and on the other, he has indiscriminately transferred the SPs, collectors, and other officials, Jagan had said and questioned how Mr Ramesh Kumar could stop the welfare programmes. The CM also questioned the SEC for mentioning in the order copy that he has taken the suggestions of the chief secretary and the health secretary. “Is it correct to show discrimination in a democracy?” Jagan questioned, adding that Chandrababu Naidu might have given him the position as both Mr Naidu and Mr Ramesh Kumar belong to the same social section.