Politicisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)

Though grassroots governance, by definition, gives more power to the local communities for exercising democratic power, various PRIs are constituted, setting aside the democratic norms and principles. The possibility of bribery and corruption only increases with establishing the indirect election process for most Panchayat Samiti members and the administrative structure consisting of mainly ex-officio members, to whom all the chairmen report, negates sound democratic principles.

The 73rd Amendment (1992) established Panchayats to “enable them to function as units of self-government”. Article 243 to Article 243 (O) contains provisions for the Panchayats.

Article 243C(2): “All the seats in a Panchayat shall be filled by persons chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the Panchayat area”

Moreover, Article 243K allows the legislature to: “make provision with respect to all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to the Panchayats.”

Launched in pursuance of Article 273K, Unanimous Election to Village Panchayat (UEVP) is active in many states with a simple objective — award monetary grants based on the village’s population and monetary/non-monetary incentives for second and third time UEVPs.

‘Samras Yojana’ is one such scheme introduced by the Gujarat State Government, even though the Constitution does not spell out a unanimous selection system. Seeking inspiration, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Kerala have resorted to UEVP. To cut to the chase, ‘Unanimously elected’ (and similar) panchayats are fancy synonyms to ‘No Election’ panchayats, where incentives are given not to conduct an election. It presents a picture of pro-democracy but allows selecting a candidate unanimously even without an election. Thus, contradicting Article 243C(2).

Another loophole here is that the State Government can overrule SEC jurisdiction, allowing the political leaders to seize over Panchayati Raj. The populist moves by the ruling political party keep people away from more pertinent problems like participatory democracy & top-down development approach, democratic rights, lack of devolution of power in functions, funds, and functionaries. Rather, making them dependent on red-tapism.

UEVPs also gives rise to another concern — auction for the Sarpanch post. SEC of Andhra Pradesh has also provided a list of Gram Panchayats where the post was sold to the highest bidder, and no candidate was allowed to submit nomination thereafter. Nevertheless, the claim was amputated by the State Government.

The strongmen follow a carrot-and-stick strategy for politics owing to the underdeveloped character and poverty of the villages. It goes without saying that such schemes discriminate against villages that opt for the electoral process as they do not get certain grants from UEVP, which is perfectly legal.

UEVP adopts a populist measure to entice the lower class panchayats, undermining the voter’s role. Thus, seeking to maintain domination of the feudal and patriarchal practices controlled by the upper class while compromising the ideals of democracy. It provides a non-representative and non-participatory system hijacked by the political leader and attempts to silence dissent. This lack of election needs to be seen as a leadership crisis or continuity of domination of ‘traditional occupiers’ of the seats never challenged through an election.


“THE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTY-THIRD AMENDMENT) ACT, 1992 ….” https://legislative.gov.in/constitution-seventy-third-amendment-act-1992. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Sarpanches’ indirect election undemocratic, says Jammu and ….” 12 Nov. 2017, https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sarpanches-indirect-election-undemocratic-says-jammu-and-kashmir-congress-leader-shahnawaz-choudhary/930083/. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“As unanimous, samaras panchayats have come to stay in several ….” 27 Sep. 2013, https://counterview.org/2013/09/27/unanimously-elected-and-samaras-village-panchayats-are-they-threat-to-democracy/. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Unanimity in Panchayat elections to save poll expenses … — Babushahi.” 29 Jul. 2018, https://www.babushahi.com/full-news.php?id=76693&headline=Unanimity-in-Panchayat-elections-to-save-poll-expenses,-promote-peace,-harmony-and-brotherhood-in-villages. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Panchayat with unanimity in elections to get Rs.2 lac grant ….” 29 Jul. 2018, http://www.tribunenewsline.com/panchayat-unanimity-elections-get-rs-2-lac-grant/. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“SEC warns against ‘influencing’ voters to opt for unanimous election ….” 30 Jan. 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/sec-warns-against-influencing-voters-to-opt-for-unanimous-election/article33700124.ece. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Forcible unanimous elections unacceptable asserts SEC — The Hindu.” 30 Jan. 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/forcible-unanimous-elections-unacceptable-asserts-sec/article33699940.ece. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Sarpanches’ indirect election undemocratic, says Jammu and ….” 12 Nov. 2017, https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sarpanches-indirect-election-undemocratic-says-jammu-and-kashmir-congress-leader-shahnawaz-choudhary/930083/. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Sarpanch post in Andhra auctioned for Rs 4.15 lakh — Down To Earth.” 3 Jun. 2013, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/sarpanch-post-in-andhra-auctioned-for-rs-415-lakh-41546. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.

“Auction for sarpanch post at Rajapudi village, but bidder’s hopes ….” 30 Jan. 2021, https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/politics/300121/auction-for-sarpanch-post-at-rajapudi-village-but-bidders-hopes-da.html. Accessed 6 Jun. 2021.




Engineering Design | IIT Madras

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Rudram Piplad

Rudram Piplad

Engineering Design | IIT Madras

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