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Uddhav demands rethink of move on election of sarpanchs

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray expressed his disapproval over the Maharashtra government’s recent decision to elect sarpanchs directly from amongst electorate, saying that going by this logic a demand for the election of state chief minister in a similar way can be raised by people.

The state Cabinet, that met under the chairmanship of the chief minister on July 3, decided to amend the respective clauses of Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act of 1958 to facilitate election of sarpanchs (Grampanchayat heads) directly from amongst the people of the village.

The move is apparently aimed at expanding the BJPs footprint at the grassroot level, months after the saffron party reaped a huge political dividend by allowing election of municipal council chiefs directly from amongst the electorate.

The BJP is hoping to repeat its performance of the municipal council polls in the election to 8,000 Gram Panchayats, likely to be held later this year.

“If sarpanchs are elected directly from amongst the electorate, people will ask why chief ministers cannot be elected in a similar way. If members of gram sabha and sarpanchs are of different political parties, then the development of village may get affected,” Thackeray said while addressing reporters here.

He said the Cabinet should rethink this decision.

“This decision should not have been taken in a hurry. Implications of such a decision and its pros and cons should have been studied first,” the Sena chief said.

The BJP, which earlier had a negligible presence in municipalities across the state, improved its tally of municipal chiefs to 56 last year after it allowed their direct election from the members of public.

The government is expected to issue an ordinance soon on its decision to allow direct election of sarpanchs. It is likely to bring an amendment bill in the monsoon session of the state legislature scheduled to begin on July 25, an official from the Chief Ministers Office had said.

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