PANCHAYAT ELECTION is the buzzword in Himachal these days. Open canvassing having come to an end, however, the supporters of candidates may silently go door to door to make a last ditch effort to garner support. The Elections not being held on party lines, the candidates are constrained to make personal requests on social media as well , spelling out their credentials and holding out promises on development plans envisaged by them for the villages in the respective Panchayats.This is another matter that majority of the candidates enjoy the indirect support of one political party or the other. With the least of stakes involved unlike the State Assembly and Loksabha Elections, ironically the Panchayat Elections are the most sensitive in terms of personal prestige and reputation as the electoral constituency is of persons personally known to the candidates and vice versa, whereas due to the larger area of constituency involved in Assembly and Loksabha Elections, it is the prestige and reputation of the respective Political parties at stake.
The conduct of PRI elections is cumbersome for the polling parties as the same party has to conduct elections at three different stations , the interval being given for movement and setting up booth at the next station. There is simultaneous voting for Pradhan/Up Pradhan/ Ward members as also for the BDC & Zila Parishad members. This is all very cumbersome for the polling officers.
The candidates for the various offices are on tenterhooks right till the declaration of results for which they wait with bated breath. The village politics is at full play there being many individual considerations. Undeniably, some people might think it a chance and opportunity to set scores , in case the voter harbours personal grudges against a candidate for whatever reason. The political parties are also in the fray though indirectly. The poltical leanings of the candidate are well known within the segment.The scene at the counting centre resembles the one during a festival, people all agog with enthusiasm and anxiety.
All said , these elections being local in nature serve as a nursery for poltical awakening and participation so crucial to a working democracy.
Munshi Prem Chand 's classic story पंच परमेश्वर' automatically comes to mind, as putting up a bench mark of sorts for the elected candidates, as far as integrity and impartiality are concerned.
Good luck to Candidates and voters alike !
Do the best; expect the best !
Fate for good or bad is going to be sealed for the next five years !!