Saturday, February 27, 2021

Andhra poll panel chief orders minister’s house arrest for threatening officials

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In yet another move to confront the YSR Congress party government in Andhra Pradesh, state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Saturday ordered house-arrest of state minister for panchayati raj and rural development Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy till February 21.

In his direction to state director general of police, Gautam Sawang, the SEC said Ramchandra Reddy should be confined to his residential premises till the completion of elections to the gram panchayats on February 21.

Kumar’s order follows a statement issued by the minister on Friday evening asking all the state government officials not to follow the earlier directions of the SEC to withhold the announcement of results of the unanimously-elected candidates in gram panchayats in Chittoor and Guntur districts till further notice.

The elections to over 13,000 gram panchayats in the state are being held in four phases this month. The first phase of polling will be held on Tuesday.

The SEC directed that during the period of confinement to his house, the minister would not be given access to media to ensure that “he would not make possible inciteful utterances that will have an adverse impact on the ongoing elections to the local bodies as well as on the general law and order situation in Chittoor and elsewhere.”

The SEC said the minister, however, could get access to medical aid and such other exigencies warranting inevitable movement as deemed reasonable. “He can also discharge his duties as a minister, have access to all official records and papers and can dispose of the matters,” the SEC said.

At a press conference in Tirupati on Friday, the minister threatened to blacklist the collectors and returning officers of various districts, if they did not declare the results of the gram panchayats where unanimous elections were held.

Ramachandra Reddy asked the collectors and returning officers not to obey the instructions of the SEC. “If any officials follow the SEC’s instructions not to declare the unanimous elections, serious action will be taken against them and they will be blacklisted,” he warned.

He also pointed out that the present SEC would be there in the post only till March 31, 2021, but the YSRC government would continue beyond it. He asked the returning officers to ignore the SEC directions and declare all unanimous elections. “The people of the state are behind us and unanimous elections shall continue,” he said.

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Kumar said the minister’s statement had created fear psychosis among the voters in the local bodies. “It amounts to not only interference with the election process, but also subversion of democratic election process to the local bodies underway,” he said.

Describing Kumar’s orders for his house arrest as atrocious, Ramachandra Reddy said there was no need to follow Kumar’s orders. “He should first understand whether his orders would be implemented at all. It is evident that the SEC was acting under the directions of Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu,” he alleged and asked the officials not to follow the orders of the SEC.


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