Telangana's SEC is isolated, and civic polls are uncertain.
Telangana SEC C. Partha Sarathi issued poll notification, giving candidates just two days to file their nominations.
HYDERABAD: There seems to be a question mark over the conduct of local body elections in Telangana after news of State Election Commissioner C Parthasarathi reportedly being quarantined.
Based on court orders, the Commission has sought the state government's "opinion" on whether the polls should be held or postponed.
On April 30th, elections for two corporations and five municipalities were scheduled.
For all intents and purposes, the SEC's inability to exercise his duties due to his quarantine has resulted in a major compromise on the fundamental principle of free and fair elections.
According to reliable reports, the Commission has written to the State government, "seeking its opinion" on holding elections in the wake of the pandemic situation turning to worse.
According to sources, the SEC was responding to a query from the Telangana High Court about holding elections. “Though the SEC is all-powerful to take decisions, the state government, in whose court the issue lands under the guise of the consultation process, becomes the de-facto deciding authority,” sources explained.
The government agreed to hold elections for the Warangal and Khammam municipal corporations, as well as five other municipalities after the second wave of Covid 19, which had a significant effect on the state.
The SEC, revealed the notice, the poll schedule, and the reservations to wards... all on the same day, shocking the opposition parties. This has now become a standard operating procedure. By using the same strategy used in the GHMC elections, the opposition ends up with almost little time to choose candidates.
On April 16, the SEC released a notice giving parties only two days to find candidates and make them file nominations, a procedure mastered during the run-up to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, which drew harsh criticism from opposition parties.
“We are making a genuine and apolitical appeal to the SEC and government to postpone the municipal elections keeping in mind the dangerous situation prevailing in the state,” said N Uttam Kumar Reddy, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president.
He pointed out that the government acknowledged the dire situation and placed a night curfew in the state.
As widely mentioned in the media, Chief Minister and TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao's recent public meeting, held as part of his campaigning for the Nagarjunasagar bypoll, turned out to be a potential Covid super-spreader.
Apart from Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, several other attendees at the meeting, including TRS party nominee N. Bhagat and energy minister G. Jagadish Reddy, were soon found to have tested positive.
Elections and campaigning in tandem with the emergence of a second wave of Covid has sparked widespread public outrage, even as the courts continue to chastise the government for its actions in preventing and controlling the spread of Coronavirus.
All the major political parties in West Bengal have now announced that they will not hold any public meetings.
"When Telangana is going through such a health crisis, what is the need to rush these elections for municipalities? Why risk the lives of lakhs of people at a time when long queues outside hospitals, testing centres, for oxygen cylinders, for Remdesivir and other drugs, and sadly, outside crematoriums? How can it come down to a choice of power over people?" said an official.