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Samras in gram panchayats of Gujarat: a threat to the idea of democracy?

Madhusudan Bandi ()
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Madhusudan Bandi: Assistant Professor with the Gujarat Institute of Development Research

Journal of Social and Economic Development, 2021, vol. 23, issue 1, No 11, 198 pages

Abstract: Abstract Gujarat is one of the prosperous states in western India. It was also one among the fewer states that upheld the decentralisation process much before the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1993 conferred constitutional status to local bodies. This paper focuses on the method of election of peoples’ representatives. Apart from direct elections, Gujarat has also opted for the concept of samras, initiated and formalised by the state government in 2001. Samras is a system that encourages unopposed/ unanimous/ consensus-based elections. Based on the study of four-gram panchayats from the two distinct regions in Gujarat, this paper tries to explore the status of the democratic rights of the people and the functioning of their panchayats in two different set-ups. Two of the four-gram panchayats had sarpanches’ and their ward members nominated or declared elected through samras, while the remaining two panchayats underwent the due electoral process to elect their leaders. Primary data were gathered through focus group discussions with the common-village-residents in the respective villages and one-on-one interviews with the elected representatives including sarpanch, upa (deputy)-sarpanch and the officials of panchayat posted at village and taluka levels. The information thus acquired was triangulated for the analysis.

Keywords: Democracy; Elections; Panchayats; Samras (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D7 D72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s40847-020-00128-8

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