Panchayat polls: SEC seeks report on sarpanch post auction

Taking a serious note of the auction for the post of gram panchayat sarpanch during the ongoing election process of 14, 234 gram panchayats across Maharashtra, the State Election Commission (SEC) has directed the district collectors to submit a comprehensive report.

The SEC swung into action after it received a complaint after a video went viral on social media wherein two prominent people from a village in Nashik district were vying for the post of sarpanch and participating in the auction in the presence of villagers. One of them was seen bidding for Rs 2.01 crore while another for Rs 2.05 crore.

State Election Commissioner UPS Madan observed it as a serious matter especially when the elections should take place without any fear and also in a free and transparent manner. The polling is slated for January 15.

Madan has asked the district collectors to submit a detailed report immediately about villages where only one candidate is in the fray for the polls, before making an official announcement of his or her appointment as the village head. "The Commission will review the report and inform the collector concerned regarding the announcement," he said in the directive.

Madan’s directive is crucial especially when some local leaders offer to pay a higher amount to get elected unopposed as sarpanch to avoid the election, which sometimes leads to severe animosity and violence. This is the maiden election wherein the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is pitted against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Even though the MVA partners Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have not announced formal alliance, they are trying to stitch up ties at local level against the BJP.

Earlier, the Nashik district collector had sought a report from the local officers about the auction of the sarpanch post.

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