Municipal Elections: Polling underway in Andhra Pradesh

Polling for 12 Municipal Corporations, including Greater Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, and 75 Municipalities and Nagar Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh began early this morning. The counting of votes will be held on March 14, the State Election Commission (SEC) said.
The urban local body elections (ULBs) were abruptly deferred in March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic after the nominations were filed. After nominations were filed and scrutiny was completed, the commission had on March 15, 2020 suspended the election process for the ULBs for six weeks in view of Covid-19 and later extended it until further orders.
The ULBs election would be the first test for the Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh. It has come amid a coordinated attack from the opposition parties who allege that the state government resorted to high-handed tactics, abuse of state machinery, particularly the police, in a bid to grab the civic bodies.
Meanwhile, citizens from across the state have begun reporting that voter ID cards have not reached them. Tahsildars, municipal officials, Village Revenue Officers (VROs), BLOs and the Anganwadi workers were entrusted to hand over the ID cards to the electors. However, thousands of cards were left undistributed and the cards were seen packed in huge bundles in the custody of the electoral staff in Vijayawada and the neighbouring mandals.
Despite several visits to the local Gram Panchayats and other government offices, citizens haven’t been given clarity on collecting their Voter IDs. On the other hand, locals have reported that their voter ID cards could be misused by the political parties who may cast a person’s vote on their behalf. 
While municipal polls are being viewed as another litmus test for the YSRCP, sources in the political circles echo that ground-level anti-incumbency wave is building strongly against the current government. 
However, some political analysts opine that these polls are very likely to be manipulated too. “We don’t know if elections will happen fairly in Andhra from now on,” said a political analyst, expressing his angst over the current state of affairs in the state. 

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