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Importance of Panchayath Elections

Gram Sabha

My attention was drawn towards an article in – ‘The Hindu’ – an English daily (dated 24 April, 2021). The author’s name ‘Kamal Hasan’ was enough to stop my skimming of the newspaper. I got interested and I was prompted to read the whole article. Hence this write up.

A progressive government is that which ensures its policies are reached to the remote areas of the country. This becomes the reason for having a stronger local body which will help in overseeing the implementation of the progressive schemes and programmes. Father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi constantly gave emphasis on the importance of ‘Grama Swaraj’ as it was the lowest unit of decentralized system. This would permit people to participate directly in the decision making.

Even though Gandhiji emphasized on the importance of village republics, and a reference was made in the Constitution, a stern action in this regard was taken only in 1992. The 73rd and 74th Amendment brought about a tremendous change in the governance of the country. It introduces reservation for the downtrodden and women. A three-tier viz Village, Taluk and District level Panchayats were introduced. The regions which were more equipped with better and which were more developed than village were brought under the coordinated body namely the municipalities. The district level was further slotted under corporations. All these reiterated the autonomous administration and laid stress on the active participation of people in governance.

The grama sabhas, a tiny part being not that much effective, have been doing tremendous job in many parts of the country. The grama sabhas in Kerala has been diligently working towards ensuring proper use of funds and efficiency of administration. This state acts in an exemplary manner in the country.

The elections to Local bodies in Tamilnadu have been held once in five years regularly, for the past 25 years. But the first time, in 1991 the AIDMK Government has travelled without conducting local body elections in 7 districts citing covid and other reasons. Though, the cited reason looks digestible, the carelessness of the Government towards the goal to achieve decentralization principle, also could be seen. It is nothing but blatant disregard to the spirit of the Constitution.

The Constitution of our country clearly states that the local body elections should be conducted once in 5 years without fail. Supreme Court Judgements are also there to endorse the letter and spirit of the Constitution. If any ruling government keeps postponing the election, it is a breach of the constitution. This is unacceptable; there is no doubt, our democratic system is under a great threat.

This simple aspect should be made clear to all the citizens of this country. More civil-society groups, student bodies and youth associations, teachers and intellectual class should wake themselves up and ought to run in the corridors of power and politics to awaken the State Government.

Can the charismatic President of Makkal Needhi Maiam take lead?

(Source: ‘The Hindu’- 24 April 2021 Edition ‘Arise and rejuvenate the third layer of governance’ by Kamal Hassan )

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