Crediting itself with yet another first in the country, the Gujarat state assembly on Saturday passed a bill making it mandatory for all voters to participate in elections for local self-government bodies in the state.
The bill – the first such move in the country – will make it mandatory for all registered voters in the state to participate in elections for the state’s seven municipal corporations, 159 municipalities, 26 district panchayats, 223 taluka panchayats and in 13,713 village panchayats. Those refraining from the balloting will be summoned by the election officer and asked to submit their reason for absence within a month.
Failing to invoke voting exemption based on health or medical problems, absence from the state or country, those abstaining from the vote will be considered as defaulting voters and may face action.
Introducing the move in the assembly, Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel said it was aimed at making democracy more representative and meaningful.
Differing from the government stand the Congress, however, opposed the bill, describing it as “impractical” and “designed with political motives”.