Mumbai: The Maharashtra Gram Panchayat elections 2023 concluded on Sunday (November 5) with over 2,000 villages across the state voting peacefully for their local bodies. The counting of votes will take place on Monday (November 6) and the results will be declared by the evening.
The elections were held for 2,359 Gram Panchayats (GPs) and 68 by-elections in various districts of Maharashtra. The GPs are the lowest tier of the rural local governance system and have a five-year term. The elections were conducted through ballot papers and electronic voting machines (EVMs) at 9,624 polling stations.
The voter turnout was high in most of the districts, with some GPs witnessing over 90 percent polling. The elections were held amid strict COVID-19 protocols and security arrangements. The candidates contested as independents, as there was no provision for party symbols in the GP polls. However, the major political parties like the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP, and others have extended their support to their preferred candidates.
Some of the highlights of the GP polls are as follows:
- In Yavatmal district, Dighori-Warud village voted for its first GP after 40 years of waiting. The village, which is located on the border of Yavatmal and Darwha tehsils, had no GP since 1983 due to a dispute over its jurisdiction. After a long legal battle, the village finally got its own GP this year and voted with enthusiasm. The average turnout for 31 GPs in the district was 87 percent and for 22 by-elections was 85 percent.
- In Nagpur district, 357 GPs and 5 by-elections went to polls. The fate of 3,674 candidates for 2,905 member posts and 1,022 candidates for sarpanch posts was sealed in the ballot boxes.
- In Akola district, 14 GPs and 38 by-elections were held. A total of 236 candidates were in the fray for 280 seats. The polling was peaceful except for a minor scuffle between two groups at a polling station in Murtizapur taluka.
- In Wardha district, 29 GPs and 33 by-elections were held. The polling was peaceful at all 94 polling stations except for a dispute and clash between two groups at Kakadhara GP in Ashti tehsil. The police intervened and restored order. The voter turnout was 88 percent.
- In Gondia district, the polling was peaceful in the Naxal-affected area of Morgaon Arjuni taluka. The voter turnout was 88 percent in Yerandi GP, which was one of the four GPs that went to polls in the district.
- In Gadchiroli district, 7 GPs in the tribal-dominated Korchi tehsil voted for their GPs. The polling was peaceful except for controversy at Dawandi GP, where the EVMs were sealed 15 minutes before the scheduled time of voting. The voters protested and demanded a re-poll.
- In Dhule district, a dispute broke out between two groups at Mandal GP in Shindkheda taluka over the symbol of a candidate on the voter slip. The police intervened and resolved the issue. The polling was peaceful in the rest of the district.
- In Ahmednagar district, 178 GPs and 13 by-elections were held. The polling was peaceful and orderly at all 732 polling stations. The voter turnout was 86 percent.
- In Palghar district, 100 GPs and 12 by-elections were held. The polling was peaceful and smooth at all 412 polling stations. The voter turnout was 83 percent.
The GP polls are seen as a test of the popularity and strength of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress, and the opposition BJP in the rural areas of Maharashtra. The polls are also considered a precursor to the upcoming Zilla Parishad and Municipal Corporation elections in the state.