Most of the candidates contesting local body polls in rural Maharashtra have a political background and resources to fund poll expenditure, a study commissioned by the Election Commission has found. The study, helmed by Pune-based Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, was carried out by researchers from Pune, Raigad, Washim, Nandurbar, Aurangabad and Chandrapur districts of the state. At least 270 stakeholders from six districts and 12 tehsils of Maharashtra were interviewed to understand the electoral dynamics and identify functional issues associated with Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections. According to the study, 57 per cent of the candidates submitted that more than 80 per cent of the election expenses are funded personally.
As far as the dynasty criteria is concerned in local body polls, 64 per cent candidates belong to families with a political background, the report said. At least 70 per cent of the candidates have passed Class X. Asked why they wanted to contest local body polls, most of the contestants said they wished to bring about social change though hardly any of them have worked with a lower-tier Panchayati Raj institution such as Gram Panchayat.
“Many of them contest to continue the political influence of their family. The study identifies family background in politics as the key trigger point for pushing candidates into local body polls,” said the report. It also said candidates also take the plunge as seats are reserved for particular castes and women.
“An interesting observation is that parties give tickets to only those who have a political background. The other criteria is the financial ability of the candidates to contest elections on their own, which again is related to dynasty politics,” the study found. The study found a significant difference in the functioning style of male and female incumbents.
“While male incumbents mostly take up issues such as creating infrastructure, building roads etc, female incumbents are more passionate about issues like drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and health care,” it said. The researchers suggested the state government and the State Election Commission bring about electoral reforms for enhancing the “quality” of candidates and improving their performance.