Bihar panchayat polls: Everyone in race for mukhiya’s post

Social activist Anna Hazare may have vouched for more decentralisation of power and praised the Bihar model, but the coming Panchayat elections in the state present a different picture.

Candidates have professed more love for the post of mukhiya rather than sarpanch. And the reason is quite clear: mukhiyas have financial powers whereas sarpanchs have only judicial powers of minor nature.

As Bihar goes to a 10-phase panchayat election that begins on April 20 and concludes in May-end, the figures say it all — 79,423 candidates are in the fray for the post of 8,442 mukhiyas, while 36,560 are fighting for the same mumber of sarpanch posts.

This means, over 10 persons on an average are contesting one for mukhiya's post whereas only four are in the fray for a sarpanch's post.

Fifty per cent seats are reserved for women since the 2006 panchayat election. The lesser-known panch's post, which is below the sarpanch, has even fewer takers.

At some places, there are no nominations for panch's posts while at other places, people have won uncontested. At Dawoodnagar in Aurangabad, there is no nomination for 50 panch posts while 129 panchs have won uncontested.

On the contrary, there is a huge rush for Zila Parishad members. The Zila Parishad is the top layer of Panchayati Raj system and has 40-50 members in a district.

As these members elect the Zila Parishads' chairmen — who have financial powers — at some places, there are over 20 people in contention for a single post.

At Goh in Aurangabad, one panchayat has 30 candidates for a zila parishad post.

State Election Commission deputy secretary and public relations officer Rajiv Rathore said: "By April, there were 79,423 candidates in fray for mukhiyas while 36,560 for the same mumber of sarpanch posts."

Asked about the reasons, Rathore said: "It is obvious. Sarpanch posts have no financial powers, mukhiyas control sundry development schemes".

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