A civil society organisation has raised concerns about a local government bill that will be presented in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday.
The Pattan Development Organisation (PDO), in a press release, stated that the bill has a number of “undemocratic clauses.” One of the controversial clauses, it says, centres on the election of councillors. Clause 14(1) of the bill reads, “The representatives of peasants, workers, technocrats, youth and women shall be elected by directly elected general members of the respective local council in the prescribed manner,” according to the PDO press release.
While the bill reserves a quota for women, peasants, youth and minorities --- the total quota would be around 50 per cent of each of the council’s tiers --- the seats would be filled through indirect election, PDO stated.
“Clause 14(1) is extremely worrisome because it will promote corruption and cronyism at the grassroots level,” the PDO release said. “It’s perplexing that 52 per cent of directly elected councillors would elect 48 per cent of the council members.”
The directly elected general members of each council may nominate people of their preference while the bureaucracy could potentially exploit the clause too.
“It appears that our ruling elite in Punjab are bent upon enforcing dynastic politics at the local level,” the press release read.
“This will not only pitch biradaris against each other but also deteriorate governance.” The clause goes against the spirit of Article 140A of the constitution that guarantees devolution to elected representatives, the civil society organisation stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2013.
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Indirect elections are only useful where there is integrated governance. Since the Punjab Govt rejected that, this section is not needed.