ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uttar Pradesh : Panchayat Elections

The fact that the SP and BSP supported candidates won a large number of seats in the panchayat elections does not necessarily mean that they believe in decentralised government. After all, the two have done their best to delay processes facilitating such transfer of power to the people.

The recent elections of panchayats in UP indicate that empowerment of the people at the grass roots level through panchayati raj institutions can rattle political parties. They cannot take the people as cogs in the wheel. The ruling party’s presence is not felt much on gram panchayat and kshettra panchayat levels. On the contrary, panchayat elections recently held in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have strengthened the ruling parties there. The main reason for the ruling parties’ victory lies in fact that these states have practised decentralisation so that the people at the grass roots level in these states have come to wield power. As an outcome of the 73rd Amendment Act 1992 and its extension to the Fifth Scheduled areas by the Extension Act of 1996, panchayats will have more functions, finances and functionaries at their disposal. Even the parliamentarians and legislatures want to hold balance in local governance through their near and dear ones as members and chairpersons of panchayats. It is in this context we may examine the process, participation and outcome of elections to members and chairpersons of 71 zilla panchayats (ZPs), members 815 kshettra panchayats (KPs) and chairpersons and members 52,481 gram panchayats (GPs), which were held in four phases from June 14 to August 6, 2000 in the state. Elections to the post of chairpersons of the KPs are yet to be held. In fact, the ruling alliance wanted that these elections be held in the month of October (about six months later from the scheduled date). But due to the direction of the judiciary, elections had to be conducted immediately. Elections to 12 ZPs of hilly areas will be held later after the expiration of their terms.

In the 1994 elections, there were about 8 lakh candidates in the fray for 52,111 GPs, 812 KPs and 57 ZPs, but this time number of candidates were 18.50 lakh for almost similar number of panchayats indicating more than 100 per cent increase in the number of contestants in the second term elections after 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. This shows the increasing interest shown by the rural people in the governance of decentralised institutions. More than 8 lakh employees’ services had been put in to manage the elections. Besides the state’s law and order enforcing machinery, additional 33 companies of forces from neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were put in the operation. More than 10 lakh preventive arrests under section 107/163(3) of the CrPC had also been made on the eve of elections. Twenty-three thousand eight hundred twenty-six charge sheeted persons were sent to jail, among them 66 were arrested under the National Security Act. About 4,000 suspected troublemakers and 546 people were booked under Goonda Act and Gangster Act, respectively, in different parts of the state. Furthermore, 2,900 illegal arms, more than 6,000 cartridges, 140 kg of explosive and 115 bombs were recovered from different districts of the state. In addition, more than 3,50,00 licensed arms were deposited with the police; in search operations 404 illegal arms factories were discovered along with 237 illegal arms in various parts of the state. Even with this security arrangement violence was reported in different parts of the state. But social and political activists opine that it was less than the earlier elections. They maintain that this time the carrot was used more than the stick from GPs to ZPs.

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