Last week, the Maharashtra cabinet approved a proposal for direct election of the village sarpanch, the head of the gram panchayat. Earlier, the sarpanchwas elected indirectly, by elected representatives.
The direct elections for the posts of sarpanch and municipal council president need to be extended to municipal corporations that govern larger urban areas.India needs directly elected and empowered mayors for all its big cities.
Case for directly elected mayors
It helps in the construction of central leadership. Several countries have successful mayors go on to head national governments. For instance,
Directly Elected Mayors | Challenges
Directly Elected Mayors | Way forward
A solution can be founded in a private member Bill that was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor last year. Tharoor’s Bill on direct elections for mayors included a provision for a mayor-in-council that would be nominated by the directly elected mayor. Such a council, with an executive role, has existed in Kolkata and has performed reasonably well.
Directly Elected Mayors | Conclusion
The excessive fear of fragmentation in a newly independent India led to a reluctant federation and a dirigiste economy. While the pace of economic liberalization remains slow, the decentralization of administration has been slower. It is high time for corrective steps.
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