Vijayawada: The ruling YSRCP has criticized State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar's adamance to conduct local body elections in Andhra Pradesh during the COVID-19 vaccination drive and risking the lives of the people.

Addressing a press conference, the minister for municipal administration, Botsa Satyanarayana, said that SEC was speaking like a political leader who has been working for his own personal interests and acting unilaterally. He said Mr. Ramesh Kumar has both the authority and responsibility to conduct the elections and also to oversee the safety of the public. The minister said that public health is the main responsibility of the government and it is not the ideal time to hold the polls.

He asked who would be held responsible if anything happens to government employees or the public during polls and what would be the loss if the elections were postponed for three months. People are watching who the SEC has been working for and who he is favouring, he said and asked why the elections were not held during the term of the TDP.

The minister also said that the government is not afraid of the polls as Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy has put public welfare at the forefront and has been working relentlessly to transform the lives of the poor and weaker sections of the society.

Meanwhile, at a separate press conference, YSRCP MLA Ambati Rambabu flayed the SEC for trying to hold elections before his tenure even after the state government has made it clear that people's lives are important. He said the government can either conduct a vaccination drive to save people from COVID-19 or conduct elections but not both at the same time. He said that Mr. Ramesh Kumar, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, and Lokesh will be in Hyderabad for fear of COVID-19 and concerns of the people and employees do not matter to them.

The MLA criticized the SEC for having no concern for government employees who will be on duty during the panchayat elections and for making the government responsible for adverse outcomes. Why didn't he conduct elections in 2018 when Chandrababu was the Chief Minister and why didn't he move the court then for conducting the polls? he asked.

Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram also slammed the SEC, Mr. Ramesh Kumar, and said the decision to conduct local body elections was only to serve some vested interests and suggested they wait for the apex court's decision. He proposed for a referendum on conducting local body elections, if necessary.

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