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Panchayat Polls: Despite SC Rap, Jagan Govt continues ego clash with SEC

Even after the Supreme Court of India chided the Jaganmohan Reddy-led government to work out its way with the State Election Commission (SEC) over the Panchayat Polls, the government has still not learnt its lesson. 
 
Following the SC order, Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar had censured two IAS officers for not preparing the elections and giving electoral rolls of 2019 instead of fresh ones based on 2021 list. This has not gone down well with Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, say sources in the CM Office. 
 
A day after Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar censured two IAS officers, the State government sent back the orders to the SEC. The government is also communicating the same to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) about its stand on the censure of the two officials by the SEC, said Advisor to Government, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy.
 
While returning the orders, the government made it clear that the SEC cannot censure the officials without seeking their clarification and such a move is against the service rules. The two IAS officers are Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary, Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, and PR Commissioner M. Girija Shankar, who were pulled up for their failure to publish the final 2021 electoral rolls after SEC orders. 
 
Responding to the issue, Ramesh Kumar said that he did not seek transfer or punishment of the two officials, but only censured them. He maintained that he is not going in a vindictive manner against any official and added that it was Girija Shankar himself who conducted the video conference with District Collectors and SPs on panchayat election arrangements.
 
Lashing out at Ramesh Kumar at a press conference later in the day, Sajjala took exception to the language used by the SEC in the censure orders. He alleged that the SEC was trying to terrorise and demoralise the officials, but the State shall protect them in case of any unwarranted censure. 
 
“The proceedings issued by Ramesh Kumar against Dwivedi and Girija Shankar were not in good taste and he was only trying to blame others for his acts,’’ he said and added that the SEC has no powers to issue proceedings against the IAS officials using objectionable language.
 
“The powers vested in him are limited to the duration of polls and such remarks seem to be intended to terrorise the staff,’’ he said. Sajjala added that the SEC was trying to threaten the officials in such a way that affects their duties and it was inappropriate for a retired bureaucrat to treat other officers in such a manner. 
 
With regard to electoral rolls, he said that the Election Commission of India had released a consolidated electoral list on January 16 and it takes at least two months to process it at the village level. As the tenure of Ramesh Kumar will come to an end by that time, firm on conducting the elections before that, he laid the blame on the State government officials for not publishing the electoral rolls. 
 
Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos, Ramesh Kumar expressed his happiness over the arrangements for panchayat elections. He added that the Model Code of Conduct is in force and hence, political leaders from YSRCP should restrain from attacking the SEC individually. 

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