The Maharashtra state legislative assembly has passed an amendment to the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act scrapping the earlier decision of electing the sarpanch directly by public voting.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi had tabled this Act on Tuesday in the state assembly session and it was approved by a majority vote. As per this Act, the sarpanch of a panchayat will be elected by the elected members of the gram panchayat. “This move will help to bring and increase the mutual accountability and understanding among the elected members and the sarpanch,” said Hasan Mushrif, rural development minister.
Earlier, the governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had refused to sign on the Maha Vikas Aghadi issued ordinance rescinding the earlier BJP government's decision to get the sarpanch directly elected by voters.
Mushrif said they received several complaints that development work in villages was halted due to the direct election of the sarpanch. “The sarpanch belonged to one party while the members were from another party. If the sarpanch did not have a majority in the gram panchayat, then most of his work was stalled in meetings,” said the minister.
He said, “To carry out development work, the sarpanch and the majority of members of the gram panchayat should be on the same side. Both cannot go in different directions. It was hampering the work and people were unnecessarily suffering because of this. Therefore, we decided to rescind the earlier government's decision,” Mushrif added.
Mushrif said the election of the sarpanch directly by voters is against parliamentary democracy. “We have accepted parliamentary democracy where people have the right to elect their representatives while the elected representatives will elect the head of the Panchayat. Direct election by voters happens in a presidential democracy like America,” he added.
Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of the Opposition and BJP legislator, opposed this decision. He termed the Maha Vikas Aghadi decision as very unfortunate. “We had taken this step after consultations with experts and feedback from villagers. Maha Vikas Aghadi was not able to manipulate the sarpanches, therefore they brought an amendment to this Act again,” Fadnavis said.