HYDERABAD: Telephones at the State Election Commission’s offices have been ringing non-stop the past few days. With panchayat elections round the corner, numerous people are calling the Commission, with doubts about their eligibility for candidature.
Perhaps the most asked question is whether a person with more than two children fight elections for any post. The answer is ‘no’, with conditions of course. Sources at the Commission said that it has received more than 200 calls and e-mails, asking them the same question.
According to the SEC, any candidate born after 1995 with more than two children is automatically disqualified from contesting in the panchayat elections.
The rule’s origins
The rule came into existence when the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, pertaining to self government in rural areas, was passed by the Parliament in 1993. It was introduced as a measure to ensure the people adhere to the two-child norm. The National Population Census, conducted only a year ago, had suggested elected representatives have only two children.
“The wisdom behind this rule is that elected representatives need to be role models for the people. This would promote family planning,” said an SEC officials. However, a person born before 1995 can contest elections no matter how many children he/she has.
“If we find anyone born after 1995, with more than two children, elected as a ward member or sarpanch, we will disqualify him/her immediately,” added the official.
The SEC is also receiving queries from enthusiastic ward members who ask if they can test their luck by contesting in multiple wards at the same time.
“A ward member can contest as a sarpanch but cannot be in fray in multiple wards at the same time,” the official said.
SCCL & TSRTC employees want in on the action
Interestingly, even TSRTC and Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) employees are also inquiring if they can contest in the local elections. The SEC has agreed to their participation, through a letter. Even organisations registered under the Cooperative Societies Act, 1964 can contest the elections.
Population policing the panchayats
The ‘two-child’ rule exists only for panchayat elections. It was introduced in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to promote population control. No such condition exists for Lok Sabha or Assembly elections.