State to table Bill to allow panchayat members to run elections without resigning
The state government is all set to amend the West Bengal Panchayat Act to allow the office bearers of the three-tier panchayat system to contest in Municipal, Assembly and Lok Sabha polls without relinquishing their posts.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has principally agreed to the proposal and a Bill in this regard will be placed in the Assembly this year. The proposal was brought forward by the state minister for Panchayat and Rural Development Subrata Mukherjee.
According to the West Bengal Panchayat Act, a member of gram panchayat, panchayat samity and zilla parishad has to resign from the post in order to contest in civic, Assembly or Lok Sabha polls. After amendment, they will be able to contest in the elections without giving up their posts.
Subrata Mukherjee said that it has often been found that many people who become mayors or hold key posts in civic bodies have won the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls and successfully discharged their duties.
"It has been felt that in view of the success of those who are Councillors and at the same time have become MLAs or MPs, there is no point in disallowing panchayat members to take part in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls without relinquishing their posts."
He also said that the Chief Minister had principally agreed to the proposal and the amendment would be placed in the Assembly soon. It may be mentioned that the World Bank has given Rs 2,000 crore to develop the institutional capacity in all the gram panachayats and this will increase the responsibility of the office bearers who will be trained to take bigger responsibilities.
After coming to power in 2011, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave special attention of rural development that included construction of roads, infrastructure and drinking water. To encourage the panchayats, a two-day conference was held at Netaji Indoor Stadium for the first time in February and the gram panchayats that performed well were rewarded. She has asked the Panchayat and Rural Development department to hold the conference every year.
Several panchayats have taken up schemes to lift raw water from waterbodies to purify it and then supply it to households through pipes. Also, infrastructural
development has taken place in many areas.
The panchayat elections will be held in 2018 and the department has taken up steps to complete all the developmental projects latest by December.