Nimmagadda vs. YS Jagan: The Ugly spectacle continues – Prof K Nageshwar

Despite state government reconciling to reinstating state election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, the conflict between the two democratic institutions refuses to die down. While the SEC is keen on holding elections before he retires, the state government is steadfastly opposed to local body polls until he retires. Thus, the elections to local bodies which is a constitutional mandate is caught in quagmire of political and personal rivalry.

The state government is constitutionally obliged to hold the elections. This was in fact its stand during the early stage of the pandemic. It argues now that elections would be a public health problem as the daily new cases continue to be in thousands. When the world was moving towards restrictions, the YS Jagan government wanted elections. When the world is unlocking, the state government is opposed to holding elections. This paradoxical stand has nothing to do with public health concerns. It is primarily a political choice as the ruling YSR Congress believes that Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar is acting at the behest of its rival TDP.

Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, despite holding august constitutional office through his deeds, has only given further credence to such perception of political partisanship. YSR Congress cites his actions like parleys with BJP leaders, engaging costly lawyers for the legal battle, etc. to buttress its allegations on SEC.

The Telugu Desam comes to the rescue of Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, further proving the ruling party’s point. The TDP, which was vehemently opposed to holding elections then is now demanding polls to local bodies. In fact, the elections to local bodies were scheduled to be held in 2018, but the Chandrababu Naidu government did not do so for obvious political reasons. Thus, the TDP has no moral right to criticize YS Jagan government for delaying polls for political reasons.

Though the SEC is constitutionally endowed with the responsibility of superintendence of elections, it cannot do so without the state government’s active consent. The SEC has no machinery of its own and has to depend upon the state government to conduct elections. There should be mutual trust for the smooth conduct of elections, which is unfortunately lacking. Such a derailment of democratic culture will only weaken the rule of law with people as losers. Perhaps, the judiciary will find a way out.

By – Prof K Nageshwar

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