AP govt sacks SEC amid row over local body polls

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    Amaravati, April 10 (IANS) In a significant development, Andhra Pradesh government on Friday removed N. Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) soon after issuing an ordinance to reduce the SECs term from five years to three years.

    It came after nearly a month-long row between YSR Congress Party government and Ramesh Kumar after the latter postponed the local body elections citing the precautionary measures required to check the spread of coronavirus.
    The Government Order (GO) removing Kumar was issued after Governor Viswabhusan Harichandan gave his assent to an ordinance reducing the tenure of the SEC to three years from the current five years.
    Kumar had strained relations with Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had personally met the governor to complain against him on March 14 hours after the SEC postponed the elections to rural and urban local bodies were scheduled on March 21 and 23 respectively.
    The chief minister had slammed the SEC for his unilateral decision and alleged that he acted at the behest of leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was unable to digest the fact that YSR Congress Party was heading to sweep the polls.
    The High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the SEC decision to postpone the elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the apex court relaxed the poll code till announcement of the next schedule.
    Last week, Ramesh again angered Jagan government by issuing a directive to the administration to keep the local body election contestants away from distribution of government aid to the poor during the lockdown period. He passed the order acting on complaints from opposition parties that the ruling party contestants were making use of the government money for their personal goodwill among the electorate.

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