Reddy gears up for local body elections
Hyderabad: Spurred by Congress' "impressive performance" in the just-concluded elections to co-operative bodies in the state, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is busy drafting an "election timetable" to keep the contentious Telangana issue as well as his detractors at bay till the general elections.
Beginning with the elections to gram panchayats, the state will see a series of polls over the next four-five months leading to the general elections.
The Chief Minister started discussions with his Cabinet colleagues on the conduct of elections to Panchayat Raj institutions as well as urban local bodies following the Supreme Court's interim order three days ago.
While Deputy Chief Minister Damodara Rajanarasimha and a group of ministers held talks with the Chief Minister late last night, Panchayat Raj Minister K Jana Reddy conferred with Kiran Kumar Thursday.
Jana also discussed the same issue with Pradesh Congress Committee president Botsa Satyanarayana separately.
Informed sources said the Chief Minister asked the Panchayat Raj Department to complete the ground work like delimitation of wards and fixing of reservation so that elections could be notified at the earliest.
He is said to have told the ministers that elections to gram panchayats could be held in the first round towards the end of April followed by elections to mandal and zilla parishads in June.
Subsequently, elections to ULBs will also be held.
"The Chief Minister is keen to hold the gram panchayat elections at least in April so that polls to other local bodies could be conducted after completion of the Legislature's Budget session in May," a minister who was part of the discussions, said.
"The idea behind stretching the local bodies' poll schedule for many months is to keep everyone engaged and leave little room for any other issue to take centre stage.
By the time these elections are completed, momentum for the general elections will pick up and the ball will continue to roll, a senior minister explained.
The poll season, Kiran and Botsa hope, will also annul their detractors' campaign for their replacement and cement their respective positions till the next elections, Congress leaders aver.