MUMBAI: Over 14,000 Gram Panchayats in 34 districts of Maharashtra will go to polls on January 15, with state election commissioner UPS Madan saying all preparations are in place for the elections.
There are 27,920 Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra and the polls will cover 34 districts, barring Mumbai city and Mumbai suburban.
Polling will take place between 7.30 am and 5.30 pm, except in four tehsils of Gadchiroli and Gondia districts, where voting will end at 3 pm.
"All preparations have been made and the teams are in place," Madan said.
There 20,000-odd seats in the state where members have been elected unopposed, the official said.
Apart from this, 14 villages have boycotted the Gram Panchayat elections to press for their demand to be a part of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, a Thane district official said on Thursday.
With 14 villages boycotting the elections, five Gram Panchayats in the district will not go to polls on Friday, the official said.
The State Election Commission had on Wednesday said that those suffering from coronavirus infection or people who are quarantined can cast their vote half an hour before the polling ends.
The body temperature of voters who are not suffering from COVID-19, but are living in containment zones will be checked twice, it was stated.
Voters whose body temperature is higher than the prescribed limit will be given tokens, and they can cast vote half an hour before the polling ends, the Commission had said.
All the polling centres and material/equipment have been sanitised in view of the elections, the Commission said.
The Commission also announced on Wednesday that the poll process has been cancelled for Umrane and Khondamali Gram Panchayats in Nashik and Nandurbar districts respectively, after it received evidence of public auctioning of the posts of sarpanch and members of the local governing bodies.
The Gram Panchayat polls will be held in the wake of the MVA's victory in the Legislative Council elections for the graduates' and teachers' constituencies that took place last year.
The MVA had won four out of six seats, while two others were bagged by an Independent candidate and the BJP.
According to political observers, the Gram Panchayat election is being seen as a barometer to gauge the public mood in rural areas as well as the strength of the parties.
However, the Gram Panchayat politics is not always in sync with that at the state level, they feel.
The district-wise tally of Gram Panchayats going to polls are as follows: Thane (158), Palghar (3), Raigad (88), Ratnagiri (479), Sindhudurg (70), Nashik (620), Dhule (218), Jalgaon (783), Ahmednagar (767), Nandurbar (86), Pune (748), Solapur (658), Satara (879), Sangli (152), Kolhapur (433), Aurangabad (618), Beed (129), Nanded (1,015), Osmanabad (428), Parbhani (566), Jalna (475), Latur (408), Hingoli (495), Amravati (553), Akola (225), Yavatmal (980), Washim (152), Buldhana (527), Nagpur (130), Wardha (50), Chandrapur (629), Bhandara (148), Gondia (189) and Gadchiroli (362).
Counting of votes will take place on January 18.