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Ward goes under hammer?

Special Correspondent


HYDERABAD: The democratic process of elections in the Salur Municipality in Vizianagaram district took a back seat when local leaders of various political parties reportedly joined hands and auctioned the post of councillor in second ward. Taking serious note of these reports, the State Election Commission has directed the Vizianagaram Collector to enquire into reports of the auction. However, the SEC is faced with a piquant situation on the action to be taken against persons, political parties and candidates involved in the deal. It is examining various legal provisions to see whether the incident amounted to electoral malpractice and whether anyone can be disqualified.

Clarification sought

The State Election Commissioner, A. V. S. Reddy, told reporters here on Saturday that the Salur episode was a "strange situation where all parties are involved." The Collector would inquire whether there was any coercion or inducement. He said he had sought clarifications Secretary to the Commission (Legal), K. S. N. Murthy, who had pointed out that the relevant Act was silent on such instances.

Naidu talks tough

Mr. Murthy said during the last Panchayat Raj elections, the Government itself had announced incentives to gram panchayats where the sarpanch and others were elected unopposed. "The idea was to use this incentive to develop the village." However, no such incentives had been announced by the Government for the municipal elections, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the TDP president, N. Chandrababu Naidu, said he would take stringent action if his partymen were found to have been involved in the auction for which an amount of Rs. 2 lakhs had been paid.

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