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Clueless in Kolani

ELECTIONS HAVE all the ingredients to make perfect script. But this one has so many twists and turns that even the best of scrip writers will be clueless as to how it ends.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 13:54 IST

ELECTIONS HAVE all the ingredients to make perfect script. But this one has so many twists and turns that even the best of scrip writers will be clueless as to how it ends.

But for arithmetic and political reason, Panchayat elections do not attract any great interest. However, election for Sarpanch of Kolani village in Mhow tehsil, about 25 kilometres from Indore, as they say in Bollywood, is different.

The reason? There is no eligible candidate for the post reserved for scheduled caste woman and the lone woman who happens to be daughter-in-law of the former Sarpanch who passed away on January 30 this year, is not a registered voter in the village.

It all started when Kolani village elected 93- year-old Gajri Bai Jalkhediya in January 2005 as their Sarpanch. In fact she was elected unopposed not because nobody contested against her but because she was the only SC woman above the age of 21.

On January 30, she passed away, leaving behind a legacy of a vacant post and plenty of headaches for the administration. After her death a woman panch Nirmala Bai has been given the charge temporarily.

The village is dominated by tribal communities like Jat, Meena and Mali and Gajri Bai’s family is the only one which belongs to the scheduled caste. Of her two sons Kailash and Nirbhay, former lives in Mhow while the latter resides in the village.

Nirbhay’s wife Vimla died of an ailment in 1996 while Kailash’s wife Usha, an eligible candidate for the post, does not have her name in the village voters list. Her name is listed in the Mhow voters list.

The administration realized this problem once the election process was set in motion as the six months after a post vacant ends this month.

Mhow Tehsildar and assistant election officer Prabhat Kabra told Hindustan Times that it is mandatory to get the elections done within six months of the post having become vacant. No application has yet come as there is no eligible candidate in the panchayat and as per the rules, if we don’t find a candidate, we will again have to carry out the process.

Kabra said that such an issue has come to the notice for the first time and it is very strange. “We have sought advise from Indore collector who in turn has written to the Panchayati Department,” he said.

When contacted ADM and Election Officer Nilesh Satbhaiya said that the issue has been referred to the State Election Commission who has the powers to decide whether the caste aspect be changed. “We will wait for their decision,” he said.

State Election Commission secretary Hiralal Trivedi, when contacted in Bhopal, said the case is in progress. He said the election office would send the case to the MP government and if the government decides to change the caste, then the elections would be held accordingly. But he did admit that the matter will take time.

Even as the officials are contemplating whether the seat can be allotted to another caste, an interesting fact is that if this is done, Kolani will be the first panchayat in the State where rotation would have changed before completion of five years because of non-availability of eligible candidate.

On the other hand, if it does not happen, then too Kolani will be the first panchayat with the post of sarpanch being held by a panch for a period of five years.