People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 02

January 09, 2011

Panchayat Elections Held in Jharkhand


J S Majumdar


THE two months long ordeal of five-phase panchayat elections in Jharkhand, held from October 28 to December 28, is finally over and life in the rural areas of the state has returned to normal. The people have no complaint if the panchayat elections in the state were taking place after a gap of 32 years and if the people of 53 years and below could cast their vote in a panchayat election for the first time. These elections, however, were on a different format after the 73rd constitution amendment, on a much wider scale and on the West Bengal pattern except that the mukhiya (panchayat head) was elected directly and that the elections took place on non-party symbol basis.


In these elections, the CPI(M) has won 10 Zila Parishad, 94 Panchayat Samity (Block Panchayats) and 97 mukhiya seats so far. Results from remote areas of three districts are yet to come. The list of hundreds of winning panchayat ward members is yet to be finalised.


Out of the 10 Zila Parashad (ZP) members belonging to the CPI(M) (each representing on an average 50,000 voters), one is the party’s state committee member, two are district committee members, two are local committee members, two others are party members and three are from mass organisations – one each from the CITU, DYFI and AIDWA. Among them, three are STs, one SC and six OBCs. There are five women and five men.


Some significant trends were observed during this election. There was tremendous enthusiasm among the people to participate in the panchayat elections and voting percentage was very high – more than 50 per cent higher than the last assembly elections. Reservation of fifty per cent of the seats for women and a high number of women candidates have created a big impact among women in general who came out during the election campaign in a big way and at some places very aggressively.


The Maoists had given a call for boycott of the polls, but could not enforce it. They had to politically retreat in the face of the aggressive mood of the people in favour of election. In some pockets, they even worked for their proxy candidates and there too, their candidates had to face an electoral challenge from others. Money and liquor was used in a big way, but could not become the determining factor.