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The Andhra Pradesh government on January 25 announced financial incentives up to ₹ 20 lakh in the upcoming panchayat polls in order to encourage unanimous elections and ensure that gram panchayats could concentrate on developmental work.
Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das said, "The government with a view to encouraging unanimous elections to the post of sarpanches and members of gram panchayats issued incentive awards for such the gram panchayats (GPs) where the elections to the office of the sarpanches and ward members are unanimously held," as reported by The News Minute.
As per the announcement by the state government, unanimous elections in gram panchayats with a population less than 2,000 will receive a financial incentive of ₹ 5 lakh. While those gram panchayats where population lies between 2,001 to 5,000 will receive an incentive of ₹10 lakh.
On similar lines, those with a population between 5,001 to 10,000 will receive an incentive of ₹ 15 lakh and those panchayats where the population is above 10,000 will receive ₹ 20 lakh.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the polls were postponed. A government order highlighting incentives for peaceful unanimous elections which did not go public was reissued on Tuesday.
Das also informed that the commissioner, Information and Public Relations, is directed to give wide publicity and create awareness among all gram panchayats in the districts about the incentive scheme regarding unanimously conducting gram panchayats elections.
According to Das, a large number of states such as Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab continue to conduct elections to GPs on a non-political party basis.
He explained that if the elections to gram panchayats are held on a party basis, it might result in political rivalry, enmity and intense animosity amid competing parties. He further added that this might hamper harmony and speedy development in the villages.
The State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has scheduled a four-phase rural local body election in the southern state.
The SEC mentioned that the Panchayath Raj commissioner was directed in November 2020 to instruct all District Panchayath Officers (DPOs) to undertake a revision of electoral rolls for conducting the gram panchayat elections. The deadline set for the publication of electoral rolls to hold the elections in February was January 25.
But, it was found by the SEC that apart from the DPO of Visakhapatnam, no other DPO had followed the instructions.
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