State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar said the model code of conduct established by India’s Election Commissioner will be strictly enforced in upcoming Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls and that any violations found in during the phase will be strictly addressed.
He was addressing the media after holding a review meeting with district officials, election observers and various political parties here on Monday.
He stressed that according to EC guidelines, each political party should send a maximum of five party workers to a house during the door-to-door campaign. “Some opposition parties have expressed fears that if the ruling party follows the rule and based on their apprehension, the district authorities have been urged to keep an eye on it and react immediately to any complaints relating to it,” Mr. Ramesh Kumar said.
He also said that the authorities concerned had been urged to ensure public order during roadshows and public meetings during the campaign phase. “We registered over 85% of the polls in the recently concluded Gram Panchayat elections and that was due to the secure atmosphere that prevailed. We should aim for a similar participation of voters at the ULB polls and it is the responsibility of all district collectors and senior police officials to ensure this, ”he said.
The SEC also said mobile teams have been asked to watch overnight to ensure unhealthy practices do not occur and that excise, police and SEBs have been asked to check the flow of alcohol and illegal money. “We have received complaints that bars and wine merchants are threatened with supplying alcohol. We are just waiting for a single complaint with evidence to act, ”he said.
The SEC tasked the district collector and the GVMC commissioner to ensure that the ballots were distributed by March 7. Speaking of the withdrawal of nominations by threatened candidates, he said: “We have received a few complaints and are investigating them. Based on fact and evidence, the SEC has the discretion to allow them to resubmit nominations. ”
Regarding complaints about alleged intentional power cuts in some places during the recent Gram Panchayat elections, he said the respective district collectors had been asked to investigate.
“ Investigation against AU VC ”
About Andhra University Vice Chancellor PVGD Prasad Reddy allegedly attending a caste-based political meeting organized by the ruling YSR Congress Party, Mr. Ramesh Kumar said this was brought up to his knowledge and that a complaint had been filed. “We have asked the district collector to carry out an investigation and if it is found to be correct, the necessary measures according to the code of conduct will be taken against the VC,” he said.
The SEC also pointed out that Visakhapatnam is a model city with a cultivated demographics. Any attempt to disrupt this fabric during the election will be seriously considered, he said.
During the Gram Panchayat elections, not a single case of COVID-19 was reported and people should come out openly and freely to vote and defend the spirit of democracy, Mr. Ramesh Kumar said.