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From High Court to Supreme Court: Jagan Govt says can’t hold panchayat polls amid vaccine drive

The tussle between Andhra Pradesh government and State election commission (SEC) is growing murkier by the day. After the Jagan government’s open war against Nimmagadda Ramesh, the state is now fighting the SEC over the conduct of the Panchayat polls which were expected to be held in February 2021. 
 
Filing a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court, the Andhra Pradesh government led by Chief Minister Y.S Jaganmohan Reddy said that it is impossible to hold the panchayat polls in the state amidst a massive COVID-19 vaccination drive. This SLP by the YSRCP government challenges the AP High Court’s order, directing the government to hold the panchayat polls. 
 
Just a day ago, the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered the Panchayat elections to be held in the state, while giving permission in the writ petition filed by the State Election Commission in connection with the local body elections. In retaliation, the Andhra Pradesh government has approached the Supreme Court challenging this decision of the High Court. 
 
Earlier, the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh had announced the schedule of panchayat elections on 8th of this month, but on January 11, a single judge Bench of the High Court rejected the order of the State Election Commission saying that the Election Commission decision to conduct elections of the Grama Panchayats simultaneously with the vaccination program is impossible to implement. 
 
Moreover, the election schedule was declared against Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The single judge had said that the notification issued by the State Election Commission for organizing panchayat elections would affect the Corona vaccination program run by the central government. 
 
Interestingly, the High Court’s decision itself has been contradicting as it had asked the SEC to go ahead with the polls in the state on Thursday against its own earlier order. While the High Court and the State again seem to be at warheads with respect to the conduct of the panchayat polls, political analysts believe that the YSRCP may not win the polls and hence, is postponing the elections in the garb of vaccine drive. 
 
Now, we need to wait and watch whether this will be another tussle that YSRCP is picking up with the election commission or just another negligible issue for the Chief Minister and his team! 

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