After MP, Gujarat, now Maharashtra to elect ‘Sarpanch’ directly

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Mumbai, July 3 (IANS) In a significant move, the Maharashtra government on Monday decided to permit election of village “Sarpanch” (heads) directly from the electorate, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

The state cabinet, which met under Fadnavis earlier in the day, decided to amend the relevant clauses of the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1958, to facilitate the direct election of Sarpanch from among the electorate of the villages, on the lines of a similar policy in neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The government is likely to bring about the necessary amendments during the upcoming monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature, starting from July 25.

Accordingly, any person educated up to Class VII shall be eligible to stand for Sarpanch elections and will hold the post for five years.

However, the minimum academic qualification criteria will not apply to those born before January 1995, and the Deputy Sarpanch would continue to be elected from among the elected gram panchayat members.

The elected Sarpanch will be protected from facing any no-confidence motions for the first two years of his/her tenure and six months before the end of tenure of the local gram panchayat.

If he/she wins a confidence vote, another no-confidence will not be permitted for another two years.

The move, under planning for the past at least six months, came after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reaped a rich harvest in electing the municipal council chiefs directly from the electorate in the past few rounds of elections recently.

It is expected to give a repeat performance for the ensuing elections to 8,000 gram panchayats in September-October.

Earlier, in the municipal councils, the BJP held just five posts of president, which has now jumped to around 78, compared to Congress’ 36, Shiv Sena 26 and Nationalist Congress Party’s 21 in these crucial grassroots elections.

–IANS

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