Panchayat Elections:Overcoming State's Resistance

Bihar

The panchayat elections, held after 20 years and a long court battle, may not immediately make a difference to the quality or nature of governance in the rural areas of the state. But in the interim there has been a change in the way people perceive developmental issues and most importantly, for the first time, people will be able to directly confront those who hold power. This will pave the way for effective people-friendly governance.

At last, a recalcitrant state has been compelled to hold elections to its panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) which it has been evading for nearly two decades. The last panchayat election was held in Bihar in 1978 and prior to that in 1971. But then holding of panchayat elections was not mandatory. In fact, till the enactment of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in April 1993, there were only three states, namely, Maharashtra, Gujarat (since 1963) and West Bengal (since 1978) where periodic panchayat elections, at least at the village level, had always been held on time.

Therefore, it was not in Bihar alone that panchayats were given a raw deal rather, in varying degrees, it was true of most of the states in the country. Yet no other state could compete with Bihar in taking recourse to ingenious methods to postpone panchayat elections. As a matter of fact, Bihar’s tryst with decentralised governance is so bizarre and grotesque that one wonders that an endless saga of defiance and manipulations would come to an end once the election results were announced and the panchayat bodies were set up with newly elected representatives.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

The National Education Policy, 2020 unveiled finally seeks to usher in major structural reforms in higher education. Among many measures,...

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur, including the Tribal Market Complex in Imphal East...

Coherent national strategies, backed by regional cooperation efforts, offer a way forward for economic recovery in South Asia, which is rapidly...

Sections 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lay down the procedure for granting compensation to the victims of crime. Under the...

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the...

The first report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission has allayed many fears that arose after the notification of the terms of reference of the...

Without employment providing a structure in people’s lives and with technology replacing many human activities, our societies will likely shift...

While the shock and awe campaign of the Bharatiya Janata Party and right-wing affiliates in Tamil Nadu social media circles has been spilling over...

The pandemic has exposed inequity as an immediate concern. This article draws its insights on ground issues faced by schoolteachers from across...

India’s economic order is far from neo-liberal. The state, and thus politicians, have retained very substantial powers over market forces....

Back to Top