Panchayat Elections
States and their Panchayat System
Andhra Pradesh Assam Bihar Goa
Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir
Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra
Manipur Meghalaya Mizoram Nagaland
Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Sikkim
Tamil Nadu Tripura Uttar Pradesh West Bengal
Andaman & Nicobar Island Pondicherry

The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to the panchayats shall be vested in a State Election Commission consisting of a State Election Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor. The conditions of service and tenure of office of the State Election Commissioner shall be such as the governor may by rules determine. The State Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like grounds as a judge of High Court and the condition of service of the State Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his advantage after his appointment. The Governor of a state shall, when so requested by the State Election Commission, make available to the State Election Commission, such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of the functions conferred on the State Election Commission. However, subject to the provisions of this constitution, the legislature of a state may by law, make provision with respect to all matters relating to, or in connection with, elections to the panchayats. In addition to the 73rd amendment there are additional features of elections of every state, which are being given in the State Panchayat Acts.


For eleven years since the inception of Panchayati Raj in 1959 till 1970, elections had been conducted in the state only thrice: in 1959, 1964 and 1970. The 1959 elections had been held for all the Panchayat Samitis and Zilla Parishads. The elections to the Zilla Parishads and Mandal Praja Parishads were held in March 1995 while elections to Gram Panchayat took Place in June 1995.The commissioner of Panchayati Raj is vested with the powers to delimit the wards of Gram Panchayats and the territorial constituencies of Mandal Parishads and Zila Parishads. The State Election Commission (SEC), constituted in September 1994, performed in 1994 a stupendous task of conducting the elections, by and large in all the Panchayats.


In February 1992, the first elections under the act of 1986 were held. For the earlier elections, the electoral rolls of the Assam Legislative Assembly had served as the voters list for Gaon Panchayats and Mohkuma Parishads. After the last elections held under the act of 1973(which had provided for elections every four years), an official publication had recorded that in 1989 twenty Mohkuma Parishads and 664 Gaon Panchayats were existent in the state. As per the provision of 73rd amendment, the states are required to contribute the States Election Commisiion to take up all works relating to elections for PR and local bodies and also conduct elections to these bodies. The PR bodies elected in 1992 completed their five-year term in February 1997.


In Bihar, the Gram Panchayats and the Gram Katcheri started functioning under its legislation, 1947. Till 1964, the elections to these institutions had been held regularly. After 1964, the Panchayat elections were held only twice- in 1971 and in 1978-80 both during the Chief Ministership of Karpoori Thakur. Then elections were held in 1978 and in 1979 to choose the Pramukhs and up- Pramukhs of the Block Samitis. The Zila Parishad elections were held in 1980. The Ashok Mehta Committee made a little impact on the structure of Panchayati Raj in Bihar. In the Panchayat elections, which were due in 1983, an attempt was made to have indirect elections for the mukhiya's post and to reduce the number of elected ward members to eight. As early as 1983, the state government had assured that the Panchayat elections would be held in 1994. The promise remains unfulfilled even after years of the coming into force of the 73rd constitutional amendment.


This state has a record of more or less timely elections to the Village Panchayats, held every five years, unlike those to the municipal councils. There are number of instances of tussle for power and manipulations of Panchayats by various kind of forces for ulterior motives. Goa held its first elections to the Gram Panchayats under the new law in 1997. On January 1997, the rural electorate of Goa went to the polls for 183 village-level bodies. The high degree of enthusiasm displayed by the people in general could be seen from the fact that more than 70 percent of the rural electorate exercised its franchise. On 6 February 2000, elections for the Zilla Panchayats held for the first time. However the voters turn -out was low as compared to the polls for GPs.


This state holds the reputation of holding elections regularly even during the period of Emergency (1975-77) in the country. Elections for the Taluka and Zilla Panchayats were postponed for two years were thereafter conducted in 1975. In Gujarat there is only one instance of Panchayat supersession of Saya Taluka. The elections to the Panchayati Raj bodies at all the three tiers were held in June 1995. It was for the first time that women and backward classes made their presence felt in impressive numbers.


Elections to Gram Panchayats were held in Haryana in 1972, 1978, 1983, 1988 and 1991. Elections for Panchayat Samitis were by and large, held on time, except in 1978 and 1988 when they were not held at all. In 1972, 1988 and 1992 there were instances of postponement of elections of chairpersons of Panchayat Samitis due to political reasons. In wake of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act of 1994, Panchayat elections were held in the state. Case studies of these elections conducted, revealed that more number of middle and younger aged leaders emerged. The general seats were occupied with better-educated people as compared to the reserved seats.


Elections to Gram Panchayats were held in December 1991 and to the sixty-nine Panchayat Samitis the following January. Elections to the Zilla Parishads were not held. Of the 2,757 Gram Panchayats at that time only 2,731 of them went to the polls. The second phase of elections took place in 1995. The 1995 elections to the other two tiers (Taluka and Zilla Panchayats) were held under the 1993 Act but with an amendment relating to the backward classes). These were conducted by the State Election Commission, set up under the 1994 act. There was a high voter turn out for the polls. In the elections 7,652 women were elected to different offices. Out of these 1,961 belonged to the scheduled castes and 439 to the scheduled tribes.


The elections to the Halqa panchayats and the Block Development Councils were to be held under the direction and control of the chief electoral officer of the state. The last Panchayat elections in the state were held in 1971. The rules framed under the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Act, 1989, prescribed that the elections must be held under the supervision of the chief electoral officer of the state. There are 2,683 Panchayat Halqas comprising 22,969 posts of panches and sarpanches (20,286 panches and 2,683 sarpanches) in Kashmir division there are 11,814 posts, including 1454 of sarpanches. The corresponding figure for Jammu division is 11,153 (the maximum number of Panchayat Halqas is in Jammu district, followed by Doda and Baramulla).


The Panchayati Raj Institutions in the state were dissolved by the government in 1992. Following a decision, in state high court the government was directed to complete the elections to the ZPs to the extended date of 30 June 1993. A similar deadline was fixed in the case of the Mandals upto December 1993. Elections were finally held in December 1993. Elections to the TPs and ZPs were held finally in March 1995. Unlike the GPs, the elections to these two higher tiers were fought on party lines. The percentage polling was high. The party composition was reflected in the election of Adhyakshas and Upadhyakshas, which was held in, May 1995.


In Kerala the State Election Committee is the authority responsible for conducting elections to local bodies. The Commission is responsible for delimitation of constituencies, decisions on rotation of reserved constituencies' and posts. Elections were held after the legislation of the Kerala Panchayat Act, 1995. The next elections were due in September 2000. The elections to the three-tiers of Panchayats have been conducted on the same date, in the state. The elections to Nagarpalikas were also conducted simultaneously. The elections have been reported to be fair and free. The electoral process can be made more transparent if the election procedures are mainly under the State Election Commission rather than the Election Commission of India.


Village Panchayat elections were held for the first time in 1965 followed by general elections in 1970, 1978 and 1983. However, Janpad Panchayat elections were held for the first time in 1972 only. The District Panchayat elections were held in the state for the first time in 1984 when the elections to all the three level Panchayats were completed in 1983-84 under the 1981 act. The Panchayat elections in the state have always been held formally on a non-party basis. This has been continued even in the post 73rd amendment period. The State Election Commission was set-up in February 1994 and it conducted the direct elections of panch, sarpanch of Gram Panchayats and members of Janpad and Zilla Panchayats in May- June 1994. The election of presidents of Janpad and Zilla Panchayats by their members followed. The municipal elections were held later in November 1994. The State Election Commission does not organize/ oversee the indirect elections of chairpersons of Janpad and Zilla Panchayats although the constitution in article 243 K (I) specifically provides that the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls, for, and the conduct of all the election to the Panchayats shall be vested in the State Election Commission.


Elections to the Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis were held in 1992 after a gap of thirteen years. The first elections to these bodies had been held in 1962, followed by the elections in 1967, 1972 and then in 1979; the next elections should have been held in 1985, but due to some political reasons they were held only in 1992. The elections for the 29 Zila Parishads, were held on 2 March 1997. In December 1998, polls were held in the two newly created districts of Nandurbar and Washim for 206 Zilla Parishads seats and 412 Panchayat Samiti seats. These elections were completed in three phases in April- September 1995.


The first elections for constituting Gram Panchayats were held in January 1964. In September 1964, a total of 227-Gram Panchayats and 43 Nyaya Panchayats came into existence and started functioning. The second elections were held in 1970, when the number of Gram Panchayats dropped to 221 and that of Nyaya Panchayats increased to 44. In 1975, Manipur Panchayat Act envisaged a three-tier system. After the elections in 1978, 107-Gram panchayats, 37 Nyaya Panchayats and 6 Panchayat Samitis were constituted. After the enactment of the Manipur Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 the state election constituted under the new act framed the Manipur Panchayati Raj (election) Rules, 1995. After the elections, 166-Gram Panchayats and 3 Zilla Parishads came to be recognized.


From the pre-independence period Meghalaya has a system of local self-government with traditional chiefs working in the districts of Khasi hills, Jaintia hills and Garo hills. In the post independence period the constituent assembly incorporated the Sixth schedule to the constitution which provided for district and regional councils in the hill districts of the then composite state of Assam. It was stated in the Article 243 M of the constitution after 73rd amendment that the provisions relating to Panchayati Raj Institutions are not applicable to Meghalaya. However the district councils have established their own system of administration including elections.


Similar to Meghalaya this state also enjoys a special position with respect to the extension of laws made by parliament, by virtue of Article 371-G of he constitution.


Since Nagaland is outside the purview of the Constitution (Seventy Third Amendment) Act, 1992, it has been left for the state to work out a viable system of local self government to draw the people more actively into administrative and development activities and towards the democratic process than the existing system permits.


The due elections of 1994 were postponed to 1995, the time when the ruling government dissolved all the Panchayati Raj Bodies in the state in effect from 1st August. As per the article 243 E (3b) of the constitution, elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions were due within six months after their dissolution, that is before February 1996. Elections for all the three tiers were finally held in January 1997.


Two general elections of the Gram Panchayats were held in the state in January 1993 and June 1998, the Punjab State Election Commission set up under the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act conducted the latter. Elections to the Panchayat Samitis and Zilla Parishads were held in September 1994 Act. Elections to all the Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads were due in September 1999 but these had not been held till June 2000.


Gram Panchayat elections were held in 1954 and 1957. The 1959 legislation had fixed a three-year term for Panchayat Bodies. Rajasthan conducted the Panchayat elections as per the 1959 act in 1960-61, 1964-65, 1978 (only for Gram Panchayats), 1981-82 and 1988. The first elections after the 1994 act were held between December 1994 and March 1995 under the supervision of the single-member State Election Commission constituted as per the act. The second elections were held between January 20 and February 4, 2000.


The State Election Commission was constituted on 22 July 1998. Elections to Gram Panchayats are held regularly. After 1983, elections were held in 1988, in 1993 (February), and in 1997 (October). On 6 October 1997, the elections were held for the first time on party basis.


The elections in the PRI of Tamilnadu have not been conducted regularly for number of reasons. After the constitution of Panchayats as per the act of 1958, polls to these bodies were held only twice in 1965 and 1970. After a gap of fifteen years elections to these bodies were again held in 1986. After 73rd amendment elections for 12,607 Village Panchayats, 384 Panchayat Unions and 28 District Panchayats in Tamil Nadu were held in two phases on 9 and 12 October 1996. Although the State Election Commission claimed that the elections to the Panchayati Raj Bodies were by and large peaceful, this was not exactly the case. The caste clashes are not a new phenomenon in these districts. Intolerance of the high castes towards the dalits continues to fester village life to detriment of Panchayati Raj in southern Tamil Nadu.


Under the new act, elections to the 525-Gram Panchayats in the areas outside the jurisdiction of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) were held between 21 and 27 August 1994. Elections to the Panchayat Bodies for the second term, which were due in August 1999, were held in three phases in July 1999. In the first phase (16 July) elections were held in Dhalai and North and South Tripura districts for 2,448-Gram Panchayat seats, 137 Panchayat Samiti seats ad 39 Zilla Parishad seats.


The government has constituted an Election Commission, which conducted elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the plains in April 1995. Elections to the Panchayat Bodies in the hill districts were held in October- November 1996. The polls held for 52,111 Gram Panchayats, 812 Kshetra Panchayats and 58 Zilla Panchayats in April 1995 were marred by unprecedented violence resulting in as many as 35 deaths with the unofficial accounts putting the figure at over 100. Elections to PRIs in the 71 districts of the plains in the state were due in April but took place in October 2000 due to incompletion of delimitation process of the Panchayats. Like the polls in the 1995, the latest elections held in 2000 too witnessed widespread violence resulting in a number of deaths.


In many ways the Panchayat elections held in the state in 1978 will go down in the history of Panchayati Raj in the country as pace- setter. These elections were studied by a group of scholars, and it was found that the leadership that emerged was of a new kind: young educated. Also, the caste factor affecting voting behavior was extremely weak. Such findings were further confirmed in the panchayat elections of 1993.


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Panchayats)(preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of elections) Rule, 1995, was notified on 23 March 1995. By notification dated 28 March 1995, the Administrator of Andaman and Nicobar Islands specified the revenue villages constituting the Gram Sabhas. Sixty-seven such Gram Sabhas were formed and each Gram Sabha was to have a Gram Panchayat. Election for 692 seats in 67-Gram Panchayats, 67 seats in seven Panchayat Samitis and 30 seats in the Zilla Parishads in the Union Territory were held on 10 September 1995 and the Panchayat Institutions were constituted as provided for in article 243 B of the constitution.


The State Election Commission was constituted in September 1994. Although an announcement for holding the Panchayat and municipal polls was made in mid-1996 and a notification to this end was scheduled for September 20 in the same year, no elections have been held till now.

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