Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Elections: The State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday issued the notification for conduct of elections to gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh. The development comes a day after the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government, vehemently opposed to the conduct of the polls, informed the SEC that the time was not conducive for the exercise.Also Read - Andhra Family Treats Future Son-in-Law With 365 Different Types of Food on Makar Sankranti

The SEC issued the poll notification under which elections to gram panchayats will be held in four phases on February 5, 9, 13 and 17. Also Read - 7th Pay Commission News: Retirement Age Increased To 62 With 23.39 Per Cent Salary Hike In THIS State | Find Out Here

In the first phase, gram panchayats under 146 revenue mandals in 11 districts will go to the polls, according to the notification. Also Read - Night Curfew Imposed in Andhra Pradesh, Theatres to Operate at 50% Capacity | List of Fresh Curbs Here

Panchayat elections are not being held in the first phase in Vizianagaram and Prakasam districts.

Hours after the poll body issued the notification, state top officials, including the chief secretary, did not attend a video conference convened by the SEC to discuss the polls as well as the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

All the district collectors too skipped the event, citing one reason or the other but mostly “connectivity problem” as the main cause.

The government had asserted on Friday that it would be “ready to conduct the elections after 60 days of completion of first round of (COVID-19) vaccination of frontline personnel who would be involved in the polls.”

Also, the government’s Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against a division bench order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court giving the nod for conduct of the elections from February 5 was found to be not in proper format by the Registry, Law department sources said.

The bench on Thursday allowed the SEC’s appeal against a single judge’s order on January 11 suspending the poll schedule.

SEC Ramesh Kumar warned that only the state government would be held responsible if the poll process faced any hindrance.

He pointed out that it was the state government’s “constitutional responsibility” to conduct elections to the local bodies.

“The government machinery will have to pay the price for any such eventuality,” he stressed, adding that he would report all issues to the state Governor and, if required, to the Supreme Court as well.

“I trust there will be no deliberate attempt to impede the (panchayat) elections. If it happens…I will present a detailed report to the Governor on who is answerable for that,” the SEC said.

As a special leave petition related to the elections was expected to come up for hearing in the apex Court on Monday, Ramesh Kumar said he would have to report the prevailing situation.

“Its inevitable and I cannot hide anything,” he observed.

The SEC called the gram panchayat elections “historic”, given the circumstances under which they were being held.

“People are very enthusiastic to take part in the election process. It is, of course, a major challenge for the Commission to conduct the polls against the odds,” Ramesh Kumar remarked.

The elections will be held on apolitical basis.

(With inputs from PTI)