The Maharashtra Legislative Council on Tuesday passed two bills that will enable the election of gram panchayat sarpanches, presidents of municipal councils and Nagar panchayats directly by voters.
The bills were cleared by the Legislative Assembly on Monday.
Tabling the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965, in the Upper House, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the move was aimed at increasing accountability of these local bodies.
So far, members of gram panchayats, municipal councils and Nagar panchayats had been electing chiefs of these bodies.
Opposing the bills, Ambadas Danve, the Leader of Opposition and Shiv Sena legislator, asked what would be the situation if the president is elected from one party, while councillors of another party have a majority.
Danve and Eknath Khadse (NCP) asked Shinde the reason behind changing his stand as it was the Urban Development Department under him in the previous Uddhav Thackeray government that had taken a decision to indirectly elect presidents of municipal councils and Nagar panchayats.
Replying to the debate, the chief minister said the decision to elect presidents of municipal councils directly was a collective stand of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
During a debate on the bill amending the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act, introduced by Rural Development Minister Girish Mahajan, Danve said the move will lead to the concentration of power in the hands of one person.
The bill will enable direct election for the post of gram panchayat sarpanch.