In its first Cabinet meeting since taking over, the Congress government in Rajasthan has decided to remove the condition of minimum qualification required to contest civic elections.
The previous BJP government in the state had made it mandatory for people contesting zila parishad, panchayat samiti and municipal elections to have passed Class 10, those contesting sarpanch elections to have passed Class 8 and those standing for sarpanch elections in panchayats in scheduled areas to have cleared Class 5.
Talking to the media after the Cabinet meeting, Health Minister Raghu Sharma said, “Our government has decided to remove the condition of mandatory qualification for contesting in local body or Panchayati Raj elections. In a democracy, whether a person is literate or illiterate, when we can’t stop him from contesting Assembly elections, we have no right to stop him from contesting local body or Panchayati Raj polls.”
Removal of the minimum qualification condition was part of the Congress’s manifesto for the just concluded elections. The Cabinet also decided to reopen two universities, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Law University and Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication, both of which were opened during Ashok Gehlot’s previous term as chief minister but were closed when the BJP came to power.
The government has also decided to increase the old-age pension under which people getting Rs 500 a month will now get Rs 750 and those getting Rs 750 will be entitled to Rs 1,000 as pension per month. Among others, the Cabinet decided that the photograph of Deendayal Upadhyay that features on government letter pads would be removed “with immediate effect” and replaced by the national emblem.
Also, the mayor and chairman of urban local bodies will now be elected by the public instead of the indirect method introduced by the previous BJP government
“We have also decided that an inter-departmental committee will be constituted for the farm-loan waiver. The committee will decide the eligibility of banks and benchmark for the loan waiver,” said Sharma. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday gave the Chief Secretary a copy of the Congress manifesto, which will now be an official policy document of the Rajasthan government, the minister said.
Sharma said the government has decided that The Rajasthan Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Bill, 2011, and the Rajasthan Right to Hearing Act, 2012, will be implemented to bring in accountability and expertise to public services.