Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu today slammed the newly appointed Commissioner of the State Election Commission (SEC), Neelam Sawhney, and wondered if the new commissioner would be able to use her power to hold local body elections fairly in the state.
Speaking to the media at the party's headquarters, Naidu also wondered why the new commissioner had issued the notifications for the Zilla Parishad elections in AP so close to the date of the polling for the same.
Alleging that the SEC had become little more than a rubber stamp in the hands of the rulers of the state government, he announced that the TDP would be boycotting the Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) and Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) elections in the state not because it feared defeat - a necessary clarification, some would say, after the party's repeated defeats
in the past few elections - but rather because of its lack of faith in the election body to conduct fair elections.
The decision is a momentous one as this is the first time in 39 years that the TDP will not be contesting in the elections, which are due next week.
The yellow party's head alleged that the local body elections were not being organised as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court according to which the election code of conduct needs to be imposed four weeks before the notified date of any election.
"The SEC has released the notification for the ZPTC and MPTC only recently, leaving about a week before the polling for the same. It is clear that this was done as a favour to the ruling party of AP, the YSR Congress Party," he thundered.
Naidu then launched a scathing attack on the ruling party and accused it of indulging in various "underhand" means to secure votes. He claimed that the party's leaders had been securing the votes of the beneficiaries of its welfare schemes by threatening to take away their access to the same if they did not support it. He also alleged that the YSRCP's leaders had forced the leaders of the TDP to withdraw their nomination papers by implicating them in "false" red sandalwood theft cases.
After explaining the reasons for the decision, he said that the supporters of the party and the people of the state would understand the decision taken by the party to abstain from participating in the "undemocratic" elections.