New Delhi: In the wake of novel coronavirus outbreak, the Andhra Pradesh state election commission on Sunday postponed rural and urban local bodies polls for six weeks. Elections to gram panchayats have been kept in abeyance for six weeks, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar said. Also Read - Coronavirus: Delhi Government Seals Cancer Institute After Doctor, 9 Staffers Test Positive

“Taking due consideration of emerging challenges posted by coronavirus spread, the SEC is of the firm view that continuing with the election schedule may be detrimental and harmful to the public health at large,” he told reporters. Also Read - World Health Day 2020: History, Significance, And Theme

Furthermore, he asserted that the commission exercised its plenary powers under Articles 243K and 243ZA of the Constitution to put on hold the election process for a period of six weeks or till the threat of Covid-19 is arrested or declined and normalcy restored. Also Read - Amid Global Pressure Over Coronavirus, Centre Partially Lifts Ban on Export of Hydroxychloroquine, Paracetamol

He clarified that the process is postponed, but not cancelled. “Nomination process for municipal elections is complete and the remaining process will continue as per the fresh schedule”, the poll official added.

Notably, elections to Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies and Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies were scheduled for March 21, while elections to municipalities, nagar panchayats and municipal corporations were slated for March 23.

All political parties, except the ruling YSR Congress, had on March 6 sought postponement of the local bodies elections in view of the spread of coronavirus.