Vijayawada: The TDP national president and Opposition leader Nara Chandrababu Naidu has accused YSRCP candidates contesting the local body elections of violating the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown norms and also the guidelines issued by the State Election Commission asking candidates not to campaign till further notice. Mr Naidu also appealed to state election commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar to disqualify all the ruling party candidates found guilty of distributing Rs. 1,000 to woo poor voters.

In a letter to the SEC on 8 April, Mr. Naidu said the Rs. 1,000 financial assistance was actually announced by the government as part of the COVID-19 relief. Volunteers in villages and wards are authorised to distribute this money but the YSRCP nominees are doing this themselves to pressure the poor voters to support them in the local polls.

Mr Naidu told the SEC that photos, videos, and other evidence would be submitted to the Election Commission to prove where and how the YSRCP contestants have violated the election guidelines. Local people took photos and videos of YSRCP excesses at 253 places in the state, which will be submitted to the SEC. The ruling party is resorting to rampant misuse of power to influence voters though there is a ban on electioneering now, he said.

Referring to the current nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Corona virus, Mr Naidu told the commission that the YSRCP candidates were violating the social distancing norms by going in groups to the homes of poor families to distribute the money. They are unabashedly asking poor voters to cast their votes during the local elections and scaring them, he alleged.

Mr Naidu recalled that the Central government has banned all political and social gatherings in the country to combat and eradicate the epidemic. But the YSRCP leaders and candidates are endangering the public by mobilising crowds to seek votes. While the whole country is making efforts to fight the Corona threat, the ruling party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are making a mockery of the nationwide lockdown in the state, he said.

Stating that the YSRCP’s negligence has made the poor vulnerable, Mr Naidu said at the time of postponing the local polls, the SEC had directed all political parties to suspend campaigns till further notice. But the YSRCP violated this order in all the 175 Assembly segments in the state.

Referring to AP Panchayat Raj Amendment Ordinance 2 of 2020, Mr Naidu asked that the erring ruling party candidates be disqualified and punished as per the ordinance. Also, the YSRCP nominees violated Sections 51-60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 by gathering in groups during the lockdown, he said, adding this is punishable under Sections 171(E), 171 (F), and 188 of the IPC for violating the SEC guidelines.

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