Hyderabad: Ruling YSRCP (YSR Congress Party)-backed candidates won about 80% of the seats in the four panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh that concluded on Sunday evening. Political parties are now gearing up for urban local body polls scheduled for March 10.
According to the State Election Commission, an average voting percentage of about 81.78% was recorded in the four phases of elections to the panchayats.
While elections were held in 13,097 gram panchayats, YSRCP- backed candidates won 10,382 seats, followed by the opposition Telugu Desam Party-supported candidates who won in 2,063, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)--Jana Sena in 100 seats and the Left and independent candidates winning in the remaining 375 seats.
During the course of the four-phase elections, over 200 incidents of clashes between supporters of YSRCP and TDP were reported by the media.
State Election Commissioner (SEC) N Ramesh Kumar on Monday said that about 16% of village sarpanches have been elected unanimously but asked all district collectors to submit reports on the unanimous elections by Tuesday.
After the election notification was issued in January, the state government announced an incentive scheme for gram panchayats where sarpanches are elected unanimously. According to the scheme, gram panchayats with population less than 2,000 would be awarded Rs 5 lakh for unanimous election. Similarly, panchayats with population between 2,001 to 5,000 will be awarded Rs 10 lakh and panchayats with population above 5,000 would get Rs 15 lakh for unanimous elections.
Commenting on the polls, YSRCP ministers said that the results indicated the people’s trust in the ruling party and in the governance of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. However, former Chief Minister and TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu blamed the ruling party of using police force for threatening opposition candidates. He said TDP supporters had filed about 191 complaints with the SEC against YSRCP members.
The results came as a relief for the ruling party, but TDP witnessed a further dip in its support base in the rural parts of the state compared with the 2019 elections. While BJP and actor Pawan Kalyan’s Janasena-supported candidates contested in a majority of seats, they were able to win about 100 seats. The Left and Congress parties showed a dismal performance.
TDP faced a major setback in Kuppam Assembly constituency, which is represented by Naidu, where YSRCP candidates won 73 out of 87 panchayats.
The panchayat polls are significant in the backdrop of a tug of war going on between SEC Kumar and the state government.
In April last year, the state government had removed Kumar and replaced him with former Madras High Court judge Justice V. Kanagaraj through an ordinance. Kumar challenged the ordinance in the high court. On May 29, the court directed the government to restore his appointment. The government then approached the apex court which refused to issue a stay order on the HC’s verdict.
Municipal Polls on March 10
The SEC on Monday also released a notification for the elections to 12 Municipal Corporations and 75 Municipalities in the state. The polling is scheduled on March 10 and the results will be declared on March 14.
The SEC said the municipal elections, which were stalled at the scrutiny level of nominations in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will continue.
Meanwhile, Janasena Party has approached the state High Court seeking re-notification for the polls so that candidates have a chance for filing nominations afresh.