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Nominations begin for 3rd phase panchayat polls in Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati: Nominations for the third phase of the four-phase panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh started on Saturday.

Though panchayat elections are supposed to be held on a non-political basis, every move in these elections is happening discreetly under the direction of political parties, with lakhs of rupees being allegedly spent to influence voters.

Candidates are openly carrying the flags and insignia of political parties such as Janasena, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

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Set to last for three days, nominations will be accepted between 10.30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Display of ward-wise electoral rolls of gram panchayats by the returning officer will begin on the same day as nominations in all four phases of the elections.

Nominations for sarpanches and ward members for the third phase will be accepted till 5 p.m. on Monday.

Only two persons will be allowed to accompany the candidates for the nomination.

The third phase election will be held on February 17 from 6.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., and the counting of votes will start from 4 p.m. on the same day.

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As many as 19 revenue divisions will go to the polls in the third phase: Srikakulam, Palakonda, Vizianagaram, Paderu, Rampachodavaram, Yetapaka, Jangareddigudem, Kukunuru, Machilipatnam, Gurazala, Kandukur, Gudur, Naidupet, Adoni, Kurnool, Ananthapuramu, Rajampet, Kadapa and Madanapalle.

As many as 3,558 panchayats will go to the polls.

Meanwhile, people who filed their nomination for the first phase election have started campaigning and also received their election symbols.

Candidates and their supporters are visiting each and every house in the villages to ask for votes. To familiarize the voters, sarpanch and ward member candidates are showcasing their symbols.

Panchayat elections were originally supposed to be held in 2018 when the tenure of the local bodies ended but State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar chose not to hold them and wait until now.

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Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted to hold the polls in March 2020 but Kumar refused to give the green signal, citing the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a major standoff between the two.

Reddy accused Kumar of acting at the behest of opposition leader Nara Chandrababu Naidu, during whose tenure he was appointed and even tried to replace him, which backfired as the SEC has Constitutional protection equal to a Supreme Court judge.