Maha panchayat polls:SEC seeks report on sarpanch post auction

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Mumbai, Jan 4 (PTI) The Maharashtra State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday asked collectors of all districts in the state to submit a report on the alleged auction of the posts of sarpanch ahead of the gram panchayat polls to be held on January 15.

The directive came following a rise in complaints about 'auction' of the post, where some candidates have allegedly promised to spend huge sums from their own pockets for the development of villages if they are elected unopposed as sarpanch, or head of the village's governing council.

The State Election Commissioner, U P S Madan, has asked district collectors to submit a detailed report immediately about villages where only one candidate is in the fray for the polls, before making an official announcement of his or her appointment as the village head.

'The commission will review the report and inform the collector concerned regarding the announcement,' Madan said in the directive.

A senior SEC official said the gram panchayat polls have been postponed in the state for almost a year, leading to around 14,000 village panchayats out of 28,000 facing elections later this month.

However, to avoid the election, which some times leads to severe animosity and violence, some local leaders, to get elected unopposed as sarpanch, have offered to pay a higher amount from their own pockets for village development.

'The commission has received several complaints against the so-called auction of the constitutional post. The polls have to be held in a fair manner and use of money to influence people is illegal,' the official said.

Surprisingly, in some cases, even elected representatives like MLAs have come forward to offer implementation of various government schemes on priority, if a village elects its governing body unanimously, he said. PTI ND GK GK