Monday, February 14, 2011

Panchayat reservation pangs in Jharkhand

In the three-tier panchayat system in Jharkhand having 53,207 posts, more than 105 posts of Mukhiya that were reserved for the Scheduled Tribes have remained vacant over the years as there were no nominations.

These panchayats fall in the state’s Scheduled areas in traditional tribal dominated districts like Ranchi, Latehar, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Lohardagga, Palamau, Gumla and Simdega. They were reserved for the Scheduled Tribes in accordance with the law in 1978.

Following the notification of the panchayat polls results, the State Election Commission (SEC) has compiled data showing the law has overlooked the considerable demographic change that these panchayats have undergone over the years. This suggests migration of the tribals in large numbers. Within the Scheduled areas (tribal-inhabited areas incorporated under Schedule V of the Constitution) of the state tribals were no longer in the majority. In fact, they were in minority in these panchayats. For example, in Sasang, out of a total electorate of 2,409, there were only 41 tribals. This was the case in several other seats as well.

So now the demand for some groups in the state is members of the majority non- tribal communities in such panchayats must have non-tribal mukhiyas. The SEC, on its part, wants the state government to de-reserve these posts in order to constitute the panchayat by holding polls there afresh.

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