Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh chief secretary Nilam Sawhney has replied to State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar's letter regarding the conduct of local body elections in the state and said it is not possible to conduct the elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ramesh Kumar is meeting Governor Biswa Bhushan Harichandan to explain the non-cooperation of the state government to hold the local body elections. The SEC is planning to release the schedule to resume the election of local bodies in the state after meeting the Governor.

In her reply to the SEC, Ms. Sawhney said the AP government will immediately inform the SEC about its preparedness and readiness in resuming the adjourned elections as and when the situation becomes conducive. She also said the situation in Andhra Pradesh, particularly in rural areas, has been a matter of grave concern owing to the virus.

The district administration, including police personnel, continue to be actively involved in containment measures in the state, she said, adding comparison among states may not present the correct picture as the situation is different in each state. The Central government has already warned the states to be wary during winter months, Ms. Sawhney added.

She asked the SEC to re-examine his decision in this regard. Further, she said it is not necessary for the SEC to hold a video conference with district collectors and other officers and that further consultations be continued.

The AP State Election Commissioner had written a letter to the chief secretary and issued a notification that the commission is ready to conduct elections in February 2021. The SEC had asked to make necessary arrangements. Citing other states conducting elections, he further wrote that there are no legal hurdles for conducting the local body elections.

The SEC had postponed the local body elections in March 2020 citing the COVID-19 pandemic, just a few days ahead of the elections. Both the SEC and the state government have been at loggerheads since then.

Though the SEC did not directly mention a fresh notification, most of the political parties are asking for fresh notification for conducting the election. However, the government categorically said that it will inform the SEC when it is ready to resume the adjourned elections.

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