Situation not yet conducive for local body elections: Chief Secretary


The official urges State Election Commissioner to re-examine decision to conduct them in February

Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney has written a letter to State Election Commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar, requesting him to re-examine his decision to conduct the local body elections in February 2021, suggesting that the situation is not yet conducive and a comparison cannot be drawn with other States as the strategies followed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are different.

Word of caution

In her letter, Ms. Sawhney said there was a need to tread the path cautiously, and the approach to the elections (which were postponed in March this year due to the outbreak of COVID-19) should be calibrated.

She observed that the overall high positivity, the large number of active cases, and the spread to rural areas were a cause for grave concern. Hence, it might not be good to lower the guard as the Central government warned the States of possible spread of the disease during the cold, winter months, she said.

Moreover, the State could not afford to let another surge having already lost 6,890 lives.

Ms. Sawhney further said the government would inform the SEC about its preparedness to conduct the elections as and when the situation becomes conducive for resuming the adjourned process.

“Taking a decision for holding elections during a particular period may not be in the best interest of the safety and health of citizens. It is, therefore, kindly urged that the Commission may re-examine any decision in this regard,” the Chief Secretary stated.

It was on Tuesday (November 17) the SEC announced that the elections to the local bodies would be held in February and the actual schedule would be finalised in consultation with the State government and duly considering the successful conduct of elections in various parts of the country.

Legal battle

It may be noted that the government and the State Election Commission have been at odds with each other since the postponement of elections in March purportedly due to COVID-19.

The government had alleged that the SEC’s decision to defer the elections then was unilateral, and attributed motives to it.

The issue later snowballed into a major controversy leading to Mr. Ramesh Kumar’s removal from the post of SEC and the intense legal battle that followed.

The High Court had ruled in favour of postponement of elections and its judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court. Mr. Ramesh Kumar was restored in August as per the High Court directions.

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