Sanjeev Verma| TNN 

Tript Rajinder Singh BajwaTript Rajinder Singh Bajwa
CHANDIGARH: Punjabgovernment is planning to bring in a legislation on the lines of neighbouringHaryana to debar individuals with more than two living children from contesting elections for panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). Elections for PRIs in the state are likely to be held in July. The state also plans to ban those sarpanchs from contesting elections who have not handed over panchayat records to block development offices.
Punjab rural development and panchayat minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said, “We are planning to bring this agenda before the cabinet soon. It will go a long way in encouraging people to keep a check on the increasing population and stop putting a burden on our limited resources,” he said.

The minister said the state government will go through the provisions of Haryana Panchayati Raj Act to amend the Punjab Panchayati Raj Act. According to the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, “No person shall be a sarpanch or a panch of a gram panchayat or a member of a panchayat samiti or zilaparishad or continue as such who…has more than two living children.”

Bajwa said he would also suggest that the Aashirwad scheme (earlier known as Shagun scheme), which provides assistance of Rs 21,000 for the marriage of a girl child, be extended to those families who have just two living children. “I am also planning to put before the cabinet, that we should fix the minimum educational qualification of Class X for individuals contesting PRI elections,” he said.

Haryana had amended the Panchayati Raj Act in September 2015, fixing the minimum qualification for contesting PRI elections. The BJP-ruled Haryana was the second state in the country after the BJP-ruled Rajasthan (in December 2014) to fix educational and other qualifications for PRI polls. Haryana had made matriculation mandatory for general candidates contesting PRI polls and Class VIII for women (general) and scheduled caste candidates. A minimum qualification of Class V pass was fixed for women belonging to SC category contesting for the post of panch.

The Congress government in Punjab also plans to debar those sarpanchs from contesting forthcoming panchayat elections who fail to hand over panchayat records to the block development offices concerned by June end. Bajwa said there are many sarpanchs who have not updated their records. The state government is mainly facing such problems with sarpanchs owing allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal, he said.