Asserting that he had never misused his discretionary powers, State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday exhorted Andhra Pradesh government officials to make a concerted effort in the available time for the smooth conduct of gram panchayat elections in an apolitical manner.

If unanimous elections were found to be due to pressure or other electoral malpractices, stringent action would be taken against the Returning Officers and the Assistant Returning Officers.

“The past should be forgotten and focus laid on the road ahead as the elections are crucial and all possible cooperation must be extended to the commission that is fulfilling its constitutional mandate,” Mr. Ramesh Kumar said addressing District Collectors through video-conference.

Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das, Director General of Police D. Gautam Sawang, Additional DGP Ravi Shankar Ayyanar, Principal Secretary (Panchayat Raj) Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, Commissioner M. Girija Shankar, Principal Secretary (Finance) S.S. Rawat and Commissioner (Health & Family Welfare) Katamneni Bhaskar were present.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar said the commission would take action on genuine issues raised by the employees, and that he was not taking cognisance of “objectionable comments” made by some employees’ unions, hinting that he was more bothered about the circumstances under which elections had to be conducted.

‘No role for volunteers’

He ordered that the village volunteers should neither be used for election duty nor for campaigning, and warned that negligence in issuing caste and income certificates by the MROs during the election process would be dealt with sternly.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar further said that polling would be closely monitored with the help of a special mobile application to ensure that the process was fair and transparent.

Video footage and photographs could be uploaded on the mobile app by the officials concerned. A separate cell was being set up by the commission for keeping a tab on the elections.

COVID vaccination

Mr. Aditya Nath Das said that the employees need not fear that they might contract coronavirus infections as the State government was doing all possible it could to prevent the transmission of the virus while precautions were expected to be taken at the individual level. COVID-19 vaccine would continue to be administered alongside.

Mr. Sawang said special teams were being formed to maintain law and order, and that steps were taken to get the police personnel inoculated in advance.

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