Elected women representatives in Rajasthan have suggested major reforms in the process for allotment of symbols, counting of votes, setting up of polling booths and allotment of time for campaign by the candidates ahead of the Panchayati Raj elections in the State.
The women leaders also demanded financial autonomy for panchayat bodies.
Taking part in a dialogue on empowerment of women panchayat members here over the week-end, the representatives said the election symbols should be allotted at least 10 days before polling to give enough time for contacting the voters.
Besides, the counting of votes should be undertaken two days after polling at the block level.
Over two dozen women Sarpanches from Rajsamand, Sirohi, Jaipur and Tonk districts recounted their experiences during the last five years and called upon the State Election Commission and Panchayati Raj Department to facilitate the election of more women leaders in the January-February 2020 polls.
Ganeshi Devi, first-time Sarpanch of Gaonguda village panchayat in Rajsamand, said she had ensured the availability of 100 days work to rural labourers under NREGA and brought girls to the government schools. Manu Gayari of Sema panchayat narrated her experiences during the construction of a new building for the local school.
Direct grant transfer
The women Sarpanches and panchayat members demanded that the Finance Commission directly transfer the grants to the panchayat bodies without any restrictions on expenditure to strengthen local self-government.
The functions of 29 subjects listed in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution should also be transferred to panchayats in the true spirit of the 73th amendment.
Free, fair polling
While Kamal Tak of Rajasthan Election Watch said the candidates should monitor the activities of all stakeholders during the panchayat elections to ensure free and fair polling, former civil servant Rajendra Bhanawat said the suggestions for electoral reforms should be supported with the proposals for works in consultation with the villagers.
State Election Commissions Assistant Secretary Uttam Singh Maderna also attended the dialogue.
The women representatives later met Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi and raised the demand for allocation of untied funds to village panchayats and transfer of budgets of five departments to them under the process of decentralisation.