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Local Body Election Process in India

Posted by Admin on November 19, 2014 | Comment

In the second week of November 2014, the Gujarat government made it mandatory for the voters to exercise their franchise and vote during the local body elections. That somehow sums up the importance of such elections. Since India has long been an exponent of “democracy at the grassroots level”, the elections to the rural and urban local bodies carry great significance. Like Parliamentary and Assembly polls, the elections to Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, District Panchayats, Gram Panchayats and other local bodies follow a distinct process. 

Process for election of local body

Model Code of Conduct for Local Body Elections

It’s to be noted that the power of conducting elections to the Corporations, Municipalities, Zilla Parishads, District Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis, Gram Panchayats and other local bodies is vested with the State Election Commissions (SECs). They are independent of the Election Commission of India.

Besides prohibiting ministers and other authorities from announcing any financial grants, new schemes or development projects ahead of the elections, the model code of conduct also prevents them from making any ad-hoc appointments in the government, which may influence voters in favour of the ruling party.

Elections to Municipal Corporations

Municipal Corporation is a state government department established in a city that has a population of more than one million. Its elections are held once in five year and the people directly choose the office bearers. Elections to the Municipal Corporations are conducted under the supervision of state election commissions.

However, the provisions for elections vary throughout the nation as the corporations come under the jurisdiction of the state government. In some states, it’s the state government that arranges the elections, while in other states the authority lies with the Executive Officers. Every political party recognised by the Election Commission of India is eligible to contest election of the Corporation.

Municipality Elections

Municipality or Nagar Palika is an urban local body that is in charge of administering smaller district cities and bigger towns with a population of 100,000 or more. The members of the Municipality are elected for a term of five years. During the Municipality elections, the town is split into wards according to its population and people directly elect their representatives from each ward. Post elections, the elected members select a president among themselves to preside over the meetings of the municipality.

Elections to Nagar Panchayat

Also known as Notified Area Council, such local government bodies exist in urban centres with more than 11,000 and less than 25,000 inhabitants. The members of the Nagar Panchayat are elected for a term of five years. The electorates from several wards of the Nagar Panchayat exercise their franchise. Besides women, seats are reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes.

Zila Parishad Elections

The District Council or Zila Parishad is an elected body whose members are elected on the basis of adult franchise for a term of five years. It needs to have a minimum of 50 members with a maximum limit being 75. Besides the elected councillors from electoral divisions in the district, the members of the state legislature and the members of the Parliament are also the members of the Zila Parishad. Seats are also reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and women.

Village Panchayat Elections

It’s mandatory for a village having a population of 500 to have a Gram Panchayat. Its members are elected by the villagers for a period of five years. The number of members of a Gram Panchayat depends on the size of population. It generally varies from 7 to 17.

The elections of the Gram Panchayat are conducted by state election commissioner in alliance with the District Collector and Tehsildar. It is the Tehsildar who announces the date of election. One-third of seats in Gram Panchayat are reserved for female candidates. The day when the elected members of the panchayat meet for the first time is considered as a date of starting of the functioning of that Gram Panchayat.

Panchayat Samiti Elections

This local government body at the tehsil (taluka) level is an important link between the Gram Panchayat and the Zila Parishad. The samiti is composed of elected members of the area including the heads of the Gram Panchayats within the block area, the elected members of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the state legislature who belong to the block. Along with them, the Block Development Officer, representatives of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women and the representatives of the farmer community also become members of Panchayat Samiti. The samiti is elected for five years.