Elections to 12,668 gram panchayats in Maharashtra have been put on hold in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The State Election Commission has asked the government to appoint administrator in these gram panchayats, indicating that the gram panchayats won’t get extension nor given authority of caretaker.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government was keen on appointing administrator in these gram panchayats to exercise greater political control. The government was against giving them extension for six months, which was among the options recommended by the Opposition. The administrator is an official selected by the government to monitor the works at gram panchayats.
Rural Development Minister Hassan Mushriff on Thursday said, “The state government had requested the State Election Commission to postpone the elections in 12,668 gram panchayats. The reason cited was Covid-19. The government had also proposed that these gram panchayats should have an administrator till fresh elections take place.”
Elections were scheduled for all gram panchayats whose tenure will end between June and December. However, the government conveyed its inability to hold elections in the present situation.
Senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “The government’s decision to postpone gram panchayat polls is welcome. But it should have given six-month extension to existing gram panchayats. They could have worked as caretaker. I have objection to the government’s decision to appoint new administrator… at a time when people are reeling under Covid-19 pandemic. The continuity of elected gram panchayats would have served people better.”
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