The Congress, which had initially wanted the by-elections to be conducted first, now feels that the local body polls should be held first, reports Vicky Nanjappa.
The by-elections to the 18 assembly seats and one parliamentary seat in Andhra Pradesh is expected to be further delayed. The ruling Congress first wants to complete polls to local bodies as their terms came to an end six months back.
The Congress is toying with the idea of conducting elections to the local bodies first as it would like to test the waters before it faces the by-polls, which is being dubbed as a mini general election in Andhra Pradesh.
However, the YSR Congress party is viewing this as a ploy of the Congress. Sources in the YSR Congress party say that the Congress knows it would lose all seats in the by-election and hence wants to protect its local members from shifting loyalties.
All local bodies in Andhra Pradesh -- the Mandal Panchayats, Zilla Panchayats and municipalities except the one at Hyderabad are being run by the special officers appointed by the government.
The Congress which had initially wanted the by-elections to be conducted first now feels that the local body polls should be held first.
The Election Commission of India on the other hand wants to complete the by-elections first. It has indicated that the poll be completed before June when the Presidential elections will be held. It feels that there should be no vacant seats when the Presidential vote is on and all should vote at that time. If the Congress wants the local body polls first then the only other option is to conduct both polls simultaneously. However, this would be a herculean task and appears to be impossible as both elections would require heavy preparations.
Sources say that the idea of the ruling Congress is to keep its flock intact. The party is aware that those persons who fight the local polls on a Congress or Telugu Desam Party ticket would never be picked up by YSR Congress chief Jagan. This way they would ensure that their workers are safe. Moreover, during the by-election it is the local leaders who would play a crucial role.
The by-elections are very crucial for the Congress as the total electorate amounts to a considerable size of nearly 8 per cent. This by-poll is being seen as a pre-cursor to the general election which is scheduled next year.