The Congress government headed by Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan has reversed a slew of policies introduced by the previous BJP government led by Vasundhra Raje. One of them was to do away with the minimum education qualification required to contest civic polls including zila parishad and panchayat smiti polls.
The practice was discontinued by Raje government when came to power in 2013 and an education criteria was introduced.
As per the criteria, a candidate required a minimum qualification of secondary education (Class X) for contesting the zila parishad or panchayat samiti polls. And a minimum qualification ranging from Class 8 to Class 5 for the post of sarpanch, depending on whether the candidate was from a general category, scheduled caste or a woman.
The decision to do away with the criteria has sparked a debate.
Speaking to BloombergQuint, Ashwini Updadhyaya, BJP Spokesperson and Supreme Court Advocate said, “Our constitution says if an MLA or an MP has to resign then they have to put the resignation in their own handwriting. If an MP or MLA is illiterate then how will they resign? That’s the main problem.”
Alluding to development, Updadhyaya also added that if a member of a civic poll body is not literate then he/she will not be able to “make the best plan for their area”.
However, Jagdeep Chhokar, Founding Member of Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), said of the view that if a minimum education has to be levied it should be levied for MPs and MLAs too.
He also said that the question that needs to be addressed here pertains to “equal opportunity”.
“I believe that until we have ensured that every child gets equal opportunity for appropriate education, we have no moral right to levy this condition.”
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