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Andhra Pradesh government's haste to hold civic polls baffling

Andhra Pradesh government
Highlights

The former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu was accused of having developed fancy for Singapore model of governance while the YSRCP government seems to have developed special love for Korean model.

The former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu was accused of having developed fancy for Singapore model of governance while the YSRCP government seems to have developed special love for Korean model. Nothing wrong in adopting a model if it suits our local conditions, provided the government and people are equally disciplined in following the rules. Korea has ben able to flatten its Covid-19 graph as it acted very fast and did not debate whether it was akin to just another virus or a paracetamol could cure it or not. As soon as China reported its first case, South Korean leaders and medical staff made all out efforts to meet the worst condition. Acting fast was the most important decision they made.

By early February, the Central government, in collaboration with regional governments and medical staff, was geared up to take up tests of 20,000 people a day including drive thru centres and phone booths. There too, a patient of a religious group caused explosion of infections. But early testing helped keeping the graph flat. Early testing meant early detection of infections in South Korea, where a relatively larger proportion of patients showed either no symptoms or very mild ones.

This quick action helped them in taking a decision to hold elections to 300 seats in National Assembly. Andhra Pradesh government, which seems to be excited by Korean model and wants to hold local body elections, should first assess whether people in the State are that disciplined. In Korea, during elections, the voters wore masks, maintained social distancing by standing at least one metre apart, got temperature checked with thermal guns, used sanitisers and wore plastic gloves before they were given a voter slip and allowed to enter the polling booth. People quietly stood in line at the designated mark, patiently waiting for their turn. In case of coronavirus patients, they allowed voting by mail and had set up special polling stations for early voting.

Andhra Pradesh government has large number of advisors and senior IAS officers. The big question now is, have the officials who are advising the Chief Minister made a detailed study of Korean model and present a detailed report to the Chief Minister on how and why Korea could hold elections successfully. People in Andhra Pradesh are not even following the lockdown restrictions properly. No social distancing is being maintained and most of them are not using masks. While this is the situation with the people, the leaders are using every opportunity as a photo option for publicity without following guidelines.

We have seen some leaders wearing gloves at press conferences and no masks and are more interested in political rhetoric and giving vent to their anger over opponents rather than motivating people to cooperate with the government in controlling the deadly virus. We have seen leaders going with large number of followers as if it is a public meeting and leaders utilising the occasion to supply relief for seeking votes and Ministers defending the act saying there was nothing wrong in it.

If the government goes ahead with holding local body elections, can it ensure the strictest measures which Korea had adopted? Will our people use masks, maintain one-metre distance and wait for their turn silently and patiently and will they sanitise their hands and use gloves? This is something which is unimaginable in India. Against the backdrop of such a situation, it is rather surprising as to why the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh is showing great hurry to hold local body elections. Will the administration collapse if elections are delayed? Will it reduce the chances of ruling party to win the polls? Will there be constitutional breakdown? Certainly not. Then why the great hurry to hold elections? Do they not believe in the saying, "Jaan Hai tho Jahan Hai?" It would be advisable for the government to first ensure that the State becomes corona-free. It is certainly not the time for leaders and officials to say, "Yes Chief Minister."

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