As many as 7,576 Gram Panchayats (GPs), spread over 34 districts in Maharashtra, will go to the polls in two phases on October 7 and 14. The State Election Commission of Maharashtra (SECM) also said election for the post of Sarpanch, head of the GP or a village body comprising elected representatives, will be held directly by voters. The GPs are considered the third tier of governance. Announcing the poll programme here today, State Election Commissioner (SEC) J S Saharia said this time Sarpanches will be elected directly by voters. He clarified that the model code of conduct for the elections will be applicable only in rural areas and not in towns and cities. Saharia said in the first phase on October 7 as many as 3,884 GPs, spread over 18 districts, will go to the polls and their votes will be counted on October 9. The second phase on October 14 will cover 3,692 GPs, spread over 16 districts, and their votes will be counted on October 16.
Explaining the direct election to Sarpanches, Saharia said, “Voters now will have to cast as many as three votes, one for the Sarpanch and others for the members. The ballot paper will have different colour shades for Sarpanch, SC, ST and other backward class candidates.” Saharia said the candidates contesting for the post of Sarpanch, who were born as on or after January 1, 1995, need to have been passed Std VII. He added that 50 per cent of the seats will be reserved for women. “The GP elections are not held on party lines, using party symbols. Hence, the candidates will be allotted election symbols from the list of 48 free symbols.”
The first phase will cover GPs in Nashik, Amravati and Aurangabad revenue divisions. The second one will cover GPs in Konkan, Pune and Nagpur divisions. Saharia said the SECM has hiked the election campaign expenditure for Sarpanches and GP members. It ranges between Rs 25,000 to Rs 1.50 lakh for GPs having membership of 7 to 9 members and up to 15 to 17.