How 2016 Haryana panchayat elections saw lower political participation

A comparison with 2010 shows the 2016 polls returned panchayat bodies that were more educated and contained more women, but they also registered a drop in candidate participation


Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

The recent Haryana panchayat polls were the second, after Rajasthan last year, to set eligibility filters for candidates, notably in education. A comparison with 2010 shows the 2016 polls returned panchayat bodies that were more educated and contained more women, but they also registered a drop in candidate participation and contests.

FEWER CANDIDATES IN THE FRAY

In contrast to the 2010 panchayat polls in Haryana, which saw a sharp increase in the average number of candidates contesting, the 2016 elections saw those numbers pull back to pre-2010 levels. This trend was seen across panchayat levels and across the state.

SPIKE IN NOMINATION REJECTIONS

In 2016, overall rejections in the application stage shot up 7-20 times across levels over 2010. Applications were invited in three phases. The largest spike in rejection rate was seen in the first phase, which suggests applicants were either unaware of the new eligibility criteria or were taking a chance. In the two subsequent phases, rejection rates fell but mostly remained above 2010 levels.

MORE CANDIDATES ELECTED UNOPPOSED

Across panchayat levels, more candidates were elected unopposed in 2016 than in 2010. The increase was the sharpest at the block-member level and the village-panchayat-member level. Though the village-panchayat-member level always sees a large percentage of no contests, the 2016 figure is the highest in the last four elections.

MORE WOMEN ELECTED

Haryana has kept women reservation in panchayats at the base level of 33%, unlike some states like Bihar which have increased the limit to 50%. Despite the pool of eligibility shrinking due to the new filters, a greater percentage of women were elected to panchayats in Haryana, across levels.

MORE QUALIFIED, BUT MOSTLY MEETING BASE STANDARDS

The 2016 panchayat is more educationally qualified than the 2010 one—the outcome of the new eligibility criteria. A majority of candidates at all levels are Class X pass.

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