Elections for Gram Panchayats will be held on non-party basis like before, though there has been a demand for conducting them on party symbols, especially from opposition parties.
Following the Supreme Court order vacating the stay of the AP High Court, state government decided to conduct the elections for village panchayats in three months time following the existing norms.
Elections will be held on party basis for MPTCs and ZPTCs, while they will be on non-party basis for panchayat sarpanches and ward members. “There will not be any change in the election procedure for panchayats,” panchayat raj minister K Jana Reddy clarified.
However, the real reasons for the state government opting for non-party basis for panchayats, according to political observers, is that the ruling party is not sure of where it stands in villages, given the migrations from Congress to its new political rival YSR Congress.
Congress fears that it would be exposed if the elections for village panchayats are fought on party-basis. As it does not want people to know about its strength or weakness in villages, it had stuck to the old practice of elections on non-party basis, observers say.
Further, it will also leave the Congress enough room to manoeuver and manipulate. In other words, it will help them buy off potential candidates before elections and winners after elections, they observed.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who is currently on Vastunna Meekosam padayatra in Guntur district, demanded that the panchayat elections be fought on party symbols.
He accused the Congress of trying to manipulate the results like it did in the recently concluded cooperative elections.
There has also been some support to this demand from within the Congress. Party senior leader V Hanumantha Rao too feels that it would be better if the election are fought on party basis.
Meanwhile, an opposition leader dismissed the cooperative election results as not significant.
They are not a barometer to know the political leanings of people as they are closed elections. Only the members of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies take part in voting and the membership to those societies is determined by officials, who go by the ruling party’s suggestions on who should be taken as members, he explained.