As many as 2,422 of 21,441 villages in the state have elected their sarpanches and ward members to their panchayats unanimously.
The highest number of unanimous elections (293) was in Chittoor district, the native of chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy. It was followed by Srikakulam (202) and Nellore (194) districts.
Ranga Reddy, with just 31 panchayats having unanimous election, stood last among 22 districts. In Karimnagar district 40 villages had unanimous elections.
State Election Commission secretary Naveen Mittal told mediapersons here on Thursday that apart from the 2,422 villages that elected sarpanch and ward members unanimously, there were 174 villages where the sarpanch was elected unanimously. Mahbubnagar district tops the liast with 20 such villages, followed by Karimnagar district with 18 villages. In 838 villages there were single nominations.
‘’The deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended on July 17 and the final list of the contesting candidates has been prepared. Elections to the rest of the panchayats will be held in three phases, the first on July 23, the second on July 27 and the final on July 31,’’ he said.
On complaints over ‘auction’ of sarpanch and ward member posts, Mittal said that the State Election Commission had received complaints of such auctions in 28 villages. The departments concerned were notified of the same and directed to initiate action. Elections are being held in 15 of those villages and a decision on the other 13 villages will be taken after receiving inquiry reports from the respective districts.
The bogey of cash and liquor is very much present in village panchayat elections, which are the grass root level elections in the state. As much as Rs 8.22 crore in cash has been sized while being carried for distribution among the people in several villages. Guntur district tops the list with Rs 3.31 crore being seized. Interestingly not a single paisa has been seized in Prakasam district so far.
According to the SEC official, 1,055 unauthorised liquor shops (belt shops) have been closed down so far following complaints of liquor distribution for votes. ‘’We have formed special teams with personnel from revenue, police and excise departments to take action against such shops,’’ he said.
There were also a number of violations of the model code of conduct and, taking major violations into consideration involving officials, action has been initiated. After inquiry into complaints, Porumamilla police circle inspector Murali Naik in Kadapa district has been transferred. On ministers visiting villages, Mittal said it was not a violation. No official should accompany a touring minister and no official vehicle be used during such visits.
When asked about wrong candidates being rejected or elected, he said such candidates, after scrutiny, could appeal to the revenue divisional officer concerned.