Panchayat Polls Phase-1: SEC serious over 525 sarpanches’ unanimous election

In what came as a surprise to the State Election Commission (SEC) is that nearly 525 sarpanches out of 3249 posts have been elected unanimously in Andhra Pradesh, ahead of the Panchayat elections in the state. The SEC has been vehemently opposing and has been critical about the YSRCP government encouraging unanimous elections in Panchayats. 
In this backdrop, the State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has directed collectors of Chittoor and Guntur districts not to go ahead with the declaration of such results, and put them on hold till the Commission gives its clearance.
Observing that the number of unanimous elections in both the districts were not consistent with the state’s trend in the past, he wanted the collectors to submit detailed reports when the results are available. The Commission will examine the reports and take further course of action, he informed and maintained that the body also intends to take action in case of failures as mentioned in these reports. 
In this TBA exclusive, we had mentioned how the YSRCP government itself encouraged special cash incentives to boost unanimous elections in panchayats. While having unanimous panchayats works in favour of ruling parties, there is also a problem with this. 
“Having no competition or candidates to contest can hit the gram panchayat in the long-term. 1) Funds may be usurped just by a few. 2) Panchayats will not get more funds for development activities 3) Authoritarian rule may prevail in a unanimous panchayat against the wishes of the people.”
Going by how the phase 1 already saw nearly 16% of sarpanches being elected unanimously, the SEC is yet to delve deeper into why and how there is a possibility of the lack of free and fair contest and why candidates are not coming forward to contest for these posts! 

Photo Gallery