The new State Election Commissioner of Andhra Pradesh Nilam Sawhney came under fire from the opposition parties for the “undemocratic” manner in which she notified the elections to mandal parishad and zilla parishad territorial constituencies late on Thursday night. In a rare and yet startling decision, the Telugu Desham Party (TDP) boycotted the mandal parishat elections, citing the notification issued by the Election Commission as “undemocratic and unlawful”.

The TDP, BJP, Jana Sena and CPI boycotted the all-party meeting called by the SEC on Friday while the Congress registered its protest and walked out of the meeting. Only the ruling YSR Congress, CPI(M) and Telangana Rashtra Samiti representatives attended the meeting.

The SEC justified the notification, resuming the MPTC and ZPTC election process that was stalled in March last year, saying “time is running out” and it was not good to further delay the polls. Within hours after assuming charge as the SEC, Sawhney, who previously served as the state Chief Secretary, issued a notification late on Thursday night fixing April 8 as the date of election for the MPTCs and ZPTCs.

After suffering a serious loss in the recent polls to civic bodies, panchayats and local bodies, TDP’s national president and former Chief Minister, Nara Chandrababu Naidu told media persons that they will boycott the parishat polls.

Naidu, who is in no mood to go ahead for the polls, has termed the YSR Congress Party rule as dictatorial, “which is destroying the state in all sectors and making mockery of democracy”.

Chandrababu Naidu expressed displeasure, saying that in his 40 years of long political career, he was compelled to boycott the polls for violating the norms. “We have no hopes in the Jagan Reddy government machinery, which is merely a rubber stamp and is violating the norms of polls and democracy,” Naidu said.

“I am taking this hard and a rare decision to boycott the polls,” he said, and appealed to the media and people to understand the situation.

He slammed SEC Neelam Sawhney, terming her a mere a “rubber stamp” as she released a notification for the parishat polls. The YSRCP is forcing officials to conduct the polls and making mockery of democracy, Naidu said.

On the party’s decision to boycott the parishat polls, YSRCP spokesman Ambati Rambabu hit out at Naidu for boycotting the polls. The leader also said that the the TDP was a sinking boat that no one could protect, not even Naidu or his son Lokesh.

He ridiculed Naidu for participating in the previous polls conducted by then SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar. Now, fearing defeat, the party is running away from the polls, Rambabu said. He denied the allegations that SEC Neelam Sawhney was conducting polls against norms.

Meanwhile, the BJP moved the High Court against the poll notification. The BJP state leaders filed a house motion petition in the court to stall the polls for which a notification was issued. The court will take up the case on Saturday by 2.15 pm.

The Parishat elections will be held on April 8, repoll on 9 and results on 10, Neelam Sawhney said.

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