In an attempt to make Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of a cohesive and cooperative network of local governance bodies , thereby facilitating the strengthening of grassroot level democracy by weeding out clashes, the GoAP has decided to extend financial incentives to those local bodies which unanimously elect representatives in the coming election in order to encourage cooperative and development driven governance.

It is important to note that extending such financial incentives to local bodies has been part of the system for over 2 decades now.

For example,

In 2001, the then Government extended a financial incentives worth 15,000, 30,000 and 50,000 to villages with populations of 5,000, 5,000-15,000 and above 15,000 of population respectively.

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In 2008, the then Government extended financial incentives worth 5 lakh and 15 lakh to GPs having a population of below 15,000 and above 15,000 respectively.

In 2013, the then Government extended financial incentives worth 7 lakh and 20 lakh to GPs having a population of below 15,000 and above 15,000 respectively. ( Please find the relevant GOs attached below ).

After careful examination of the proposals of the Commissioner, Panchayat Raj & Rural Development, the orders issued vide reference 4th read above are reiterated and the Commissioner, I&PR is directed to give wide publicity and create awareness among all the Gram Panchayats in the districts about the incentive scheme for unanimously elected Gram Panchayats as the elections are being conducted on non-party basis to preserve the peace and harmony that exists in the villages in the interest of overall development of the Gram Panchayats

Revised financial incentives as per GO dates 12-03-2020:

GPs with population less than 2000 : 5 lakh

GPs with population between 2,000 to 5000 : 10 lakh

GPs with population between 5,001 to 10,000 : 15 lakh

GPs with population above 10,000 : 20 lakh.

Brief History and examples of other states doing the same

In India, local governance system has existed since ancient times. In those times each village had a self-administered governance system. The village governance was shouldered by the Panchas (five wise leaders). The village community used to select the panchas unanimously to govern the village affairs. The important criteria followed in the selection of panchas were: person’s character, truthfulness, benevolence, non-favouritism and capability of delivering justice without prejudice or bias. The intention in adopting this method was to have unity and harmony among diverse groups of people in the village to enhance co-operation between the people.

2) The philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan on local governance is enshrined in Article 40 of the Constitution of India, which lays down that the State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government. Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar also shared the same vision.

3) If elections to Gram Panchayat are held on party basis, there is a possibility that political rivalry, enmity and Intense animosity may result among competing parties, thereby politicising the local atmosphere.

4) A large number of states such as Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab continued to have election to Grama Panchayats on a non-political party basis. Some states have adopted innovative methods to encourage party-less and unanimous elections at the village panchayat level. In Himachal Pradesh, the non-party based election is adopted not only at the GP level but also at Panchayat Samithi (Block) level and in Gujarat, unanimous election is conferred with the privilege of an award of money to the GP from the state government, under the Samras Scheme, with financial grants given to each GP varying between Rs.2.0 lakh and Rs.5.0 lakh. The Government of Haryana too implementing a similar scheme.

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