Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has adopted a resolution stating that the present situation in the state is not conducive for the conduct of elections in February 2021 and to incorporate suitable legal provisions in the AP PR Act 1994 to handle such situations.
The tone was set by Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy during a discussion on COVID-19 when he said that the next three months are very crucial as evidenced by the spike in cases after elections in some states in the country and the US.Moving a resolution, state health minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas said, "The state is obligated to ensure the health of its citizens and not initiate any activity which compromises their life and health. The state machinery has therefore communicated that it would not be prudent to schedule any elections at this time."
He added, "The concern for public health cannot be a subject matter of competitive assessment, opination, etc. and the state's bona fide opinion on such matter ought not to have been brushed aside. It is also to be stated that no two states are comparable with regard to the pandemic situation and its effects. The incidence of COVID-19, revealed in view of the intensive testing, is eight times more than Bihar and six times more than Rajasthan."
The minister further said that local bodies elections and the legitimacy of the elected members is directly related to the voters' choice. If the voters do not turn out to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives out of fear of COVID-19 and danger to their lives, it deprives them of their fundamental right to vote which is the very foundation of true democracy and may result in an elected body not being a true representative of the people, he said.
"Therefore the spirit of the consultative process is breached and appropriate legislative interventions may be needed in due course of time and the government should take suitable action in this regard. The decision regarding the same could be best arrived in due effective and respectful consultation between the government and the constitutional authorities on further receding of COVID-19. Any hasty conduct of elections may distract the warriors from dealing with the pandemic," he said.
Mr. Srinivas said that while the Assembly recognises the independence of the constitutional bodies specifically conferred with powers, it notes that unilateral decisions without considering bona fide concerns of the elected government would be inconsistent with the Constitutional scheme.
"In fact, Section 197(6) of the PR Act mandates that the schedule and the date of the PRls elections shall be decided by the SEC in concurrence with the state government. The AP PR Act does not have such a provision. In this state, an unseemly situation has arisen where the unilateralism of the SEC has been noticed even by the Supreme Court which directed that further decisions after the initial postponement of the PRI elections shall be in consultation with the state," he added.