The Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which bars people with more than two children from contesting panchayat elections, and also stipulates minimum educational qualifications for candidates contesting these polls, is set to face protests from opposition Congress, even as there is some rumbling even within the ruling BJP in the state, as many aspiring candidates face declaration under the new rules.
Maintaining that the new rules could have been accepted if the same conditions were applicable even in Assembly and Parliament polls, Leader of Opposition Indira Hridayesh said prohibiting people from contesting only panchayat elections on these conditions is wrong.
The Bill was passed by the Assembly with a voice vote on the last day of the previous session on June 26.
Sources said the state government is willing to make these conditions applicable in the panchayat elections scheduled later this year.
Explaining the two conditions incorporated through the Bill, minister and state government spokesperson Madan Kaushik said clearing Class XII examination is the minimum educational qualification proposed for a candidate from General caste category, while Class X is the qualification for women and candidates from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe communities.
“The second condition is that a person with more than two living children will not be able to contest,” Kaushik said. He said these conditions will be applicable from the date this rule comes into effect.
The Bill states that the objective of incorporating the condition of maximum two children is to encourage “family planning.”
These rules will be applicable for elections of village pradhans, kshetra panchayat chairpersons, zila panchayat chairpersons and members. There are 13 zila panchayats and 7,950 village panchayats in the state.
Asked why no one from the Opposition protested when the Bill was brought in the House, Congress’s Indira Hridayesh said: “The House was not in order, so no discussion could be conducted and the government got the Bill passed. But the Congress is opposing the Bill outside the House. From July 15, the party will launch an agitation across the state on several issues, including against the Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill.”
Congress’s Uttarakhand unit vice-president Jot Singh Bisht and state spokesperson Mathura Dutt Joshi have formed a “Panchayat Adhikar Manch” to run a campaign against the proposed law. They have given a memorandum to Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to review the amendments.
The Congress leaders have also demanded that only people with a third child born 300 days after the date of application of the rules should be barred from contesting the polls, and that two years’ time should be given to acquire the minimum qualification mandated.
Similar norms started in Rajasthan, diluted
Jaipur: Under Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, people with more than two children were disqualified from contesting elections to become a panch or a member. But the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government passed The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2018, relaxing the two-child norm in case of a disabled child.
The Raje government also made it mandatory for people contesting zila parishad, panchayat samiti and municipal elections to have passed Class X, those contesting sarpanch elections to have cleared Class VII, and those in sarpanch elections in panchayats in scheduled areas to have cleared Class V. Construction of toilets in their homes was also made mandatory.
But the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government passed two Bills this February and scrapped the minimum education criterion. — Deep Mukherjee.