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    Andhra Election Commissioner seeks central police protection, fears threat to life

    Synopsis

    The election commissioner went underground from Wednesday late evening fearing a threat to his life. His close associate told ET that “Ramesh Kumar can come out of temporary safe shelter only after the union home ministry provides adequate security cover for him and his family members.”

    HYDERABAD: Hours after the Supreme Court upheld his decision to defer the local body polls, the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday appealed to the union home ministry for immediate central protection, fearing a threat to his life.

    The election commissioner went underground from Wednesday late evening fearing a threat to his life. His close associate told ET that “Ramesh Kumar can come out of temporary safe shelter only after the union home ministry provides adequate security cover for him and his family members.”

    In a five-page letter to the union home secretary, the Election Commissioner Ramesh Kumar elaborated ‘unprecedented violence’ in Andhra Pradesh and the personal threats he was receiving for standing firm and axing the partisan and inefficient bureaucrats and police officers.

    “I am greatly disturbed and apprehensive for my safety and the security of family members,” said Ramesh Kumar, adding that though residing at Hyderabad was relatively safe, “the adversaries have a long reach.”

    He appealed to the union home ministry to come to his immediate “rescue and provide a security cover through appropriate central police force commensurate with the current risk perceptions.”

    The election commissioner Kumar said, “Looking at the intolerant face of the top leadership of the present dispensation and their faction ridden background and known vindictive nature, I have come to the painful conclusion that my safety and my family’s safety is in great peril.”

    The election commissioner said the swift security cover would also help him ensure fair play in the balance phases of local body elections now postponed amid threats of Covid-19 outbreak, adding that “the stakes are very high for the ruling party to intimidate, coerce me…”

    Immediately after the SEC ordered deferring the polls on Sunday morning, the chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched a personal attack on the election commissioner, accusing him of being partisan and favouring a particular community and political party. CM Reddy also accused the top election official of owing allegiance to the Opposition Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, for being appointed Election Commissioner during his tenure as chief minister.

    While the state government moved the Supreme Court, the ruling YSR Congress approached the High Court, challenging the SEC’s decision to defer the polls, citing Covid-19 outbreak threat.

    On Wednesday, the Supreme Court’s three-member bench headed by the chief justice Sharad Arvind Bobde upheld the SEC’s decision to defer the polls amid Covid-19 outbreak threats but directed lifting the model code of conduct to be imposed four weeks before the polls to be scheduled later.

    In his letter to the union home secretary, the AP election commissioner Ramesh Kumar said the stage-one of the local body polls “witnessed unprecedented violence and intimidation by the ruling party with the active connivance of police personnel.” The election commissioner also submitted a detailed list of the “unprecedented spike in unanimous elections”, corroborating the complaints of the Opposition TDP and BJP that their candidates were coercively prevented from filing nominations.

    Taking to the notice of the union home ministry the alleged large scale violence and intimidation indulged by the ruling party lawmakers and cadres that was captured by the electronic and print media, the election commissioner said his appeals to the district collectors and superintendents of police turned futile. “The daily situation reports from these functionaries (Collectors and SPs) were completely distorted and whitewashed oblivious of ground level realities.”

    Though the election commissioner on Sunday morning ordered the transfer of district collectors and SPs for their failure in the places where violence was witnessed, “these orders are yet to be given effect… The axing of partisan and inefficient bureaucrats and police officers was meant as a signal to bring home the necessary needed course correction and neutrality and fair play in the next phase of elections from the poll machinery, but the government chose not to implement…”

    Taking to the notice of the union home ministry “the repeated warnings and threats” he and his family members were receiving, the election commissioner Ramesh Kumar said “the road ahead is a testing time beset with challenges and acrimony as the government of the day lacks in grace to treat Constitutional bodies with due dignity and deference.”

    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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    11 Comments on this Story

    narasarao 135 days ago
    SEC is scared of Jagluq and his Blue goons.
    P D137 days ago
    It is not known whether the letter is true or not. Still, nothing better can be expected of the present ruling party or so-called opposition party. Khangress is no better in AP.
    P S RAO138 days ago
    What a dubious distinction this 31 CASES CBI accused criminal CM jaganreddy and his ministers earned for themselves and people of AP, by bringing faction politics and goondaraj not sparing even SEC. Modi/ Shah enjoying no are enjoying the movie?
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