Himachal governor wants educational criteria for all polls

  • Saurabh Chauhan, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Jan 29, 2015 19:57 IST

In the wake of the Rajasthan government's move to fix minimum educational qualifications for contesting 'panchayati raj' polls last month, Himachal governor Kalyan Singh said political parties in the state should now hold a debate and decide whether to do the same for all elections.

Singh, who is also Rajasthan's governor and took additional charge of Himachal on Wednesday, said the decision taken by the Rajasthan government was a "reformative" step and other states needed to follow suit. He said he believed the move would also help in effective implementation of various social and welfare schemes.

"All political parties should sit down together and consider whether the educational requirements should be made mandatory for elections other than those for 'panchayati raj' institutions. Public representatives not only hold political office but have the responsibility of safeguarding democracy," he added.

An ordinance issued last December by Singh, effecting an amendment to the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act 1994, made it mandatory for candidates contesting 'zila parishad' and 'panchayat samiti' polls to be high school (class 10) graduates and those contesting 'sarpanch' elections to have cleared class 8.

"My political career has spanned half a century and I'm now entrusted with protecting the Indian constitution. It's a different but a very important job," Singh said.

On the frequent scenes of chaos in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, he said debates should be held on every topic but they should be constructive and end on a positive note. "Legislators shouldn't engage in a debating an issue just for the heck of it and taking potshots at each other. On every issue opposition members have the right to voice their reservations while the ruling side is within its rights to respond to questions. Debate is a must for a healthy democracy," he added.

Recalling his tenure as Uttar Pradesh chief minister and his several stints as an opposition legislator, Singh said he had never opted to engage in polemics but stuck to debates on public interest issues.

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