Former Maharashtra Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Sunday seeking a six-month extension for the sarpanches, deputy sarpanches and members of 14,314 gram panchayats across the state, whose tenure have ended, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the state government should extend the tenure of 14,314 gram panchayats by six months. They can continue to work as a caretaker,” Mugantiwar stated in the letter.
Maharashtra has a total of 28,813 gram panchayats, of which 4,112 in Amravati division, 2,885 in Pune division, 2,500 in Nashik division, 2,473 in Aurangabad division, 1,525 in Nagpur division and 813 in Konkan division are slated for fresh elections.
“It has come to our notice that the government is considering to appoint administrators in the gram panchayats, whose term is over. Such a move would not augur well for the democratic process under which gram panchayats function,” Mungantiwar stated, adding that Guardian Ministers were exercising their powers to appoint the administrators.
“When the government had given extensions to cooperative societies and district cooperative banks to avert electoral process amidst Covid-19 pandemic, why should it refrain from making the same decision for gram panchayats,” he argued.
The BJP leader said the gram panchayat elections were not contested on party lines or symbols. “Locals (residents) vote for individuals keeping in mind the issues in their respective villages. Therefore, granting six months extension should not worry the government,” he stated.
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