CHANDIGARH:Khap panchayats in Haryana are supporting the state government’s decision to make education compulsory for candidates contesting elections for the grassroot-level organisations. The panchayats want general candidates to be educated till Class X and those from reserved categories and women to have studied till Class VIII. They believe that this will help in involving educated people in politics, who will be more adept in resolving issues.
“The decision of the state government that there should be a minimum education qualification for candidates who want to contest panchayat polls is revolutionary and in the right direction. An educated person who will be sarpanch or panch will be in a better position to understand problems and act accordingly. Educated people are easier to deal with,” Tulsi Grewal, president of Chaubisee Sarvkhap Panchayat, Meham (the oldest and most powerful khap), told The Sunday Standard.
According to the figures with the State Election Commission, more than 50 per cent of sarpanchs in panchayats have not even passed Class X. Of the total 6,075 sarpanchs, only 114 are post-graduates, 426 graduates, 665 are Class XII pass, 747 are Class X pass, 2,128 are not even matriculate and 961 are illiterate.
The panchs are worse off, with 70 per cent of them not even being Class X pass. Of the total 58,608 panchs, 18,891 are illiterate, 22,278 have not passed Class X, 12,400 are Class X pass, 3,697 are Class XII pass, 1,168 are graduates and 158 are post-graduates.
Sunil Jaglan, sarpanch of gram panchayat of Bibipur village and leader of Nogna Khap in Jind, says, “This was long overdue. The educated lot has to come forward and take over the reins from the elders as change is inevitable. We’ve been demanding that minimum education criteria should be fixed for candidates. If one has to apply for a government job, there is a minimum education qualification requirement, so why not for people contesting elections.’’
Meanwhile, candidates are revising their strategies to contest the forthcoming panchayat elections. Those who don’t possess the minimum education requirement are getting educated family members to join the electoral fray.
Khap leader O P Dhankar says, “Khaps want a minimum education qualification for candidates contesting local bodies, Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. We want educated politicians to represent us and resolve social issues like female foeticide and honour killings and work for the uplift of girls.’’
Candidates will also have to file a self-certified statement on whether there is a functional toilet in their homes. Those who have criminal cases against them will not be allowed to contest the elections till they are acquitted. Also, defaulters of cooperative loans will be debarred from contesting.