Haryana makes education, toilet must for candidates

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
The Haryana Assembly today passed a landmark legislation making educational qualifications and toilets at residence premises mandatory for the candidates of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) amid a walkout by the Opposition Congress.
With this, Haryana became the second state after Rajasthan to fix educational and other qualifications for the candidates contesting the PRI elections.
The passage of the Bill came after a marathon debate of nearly two hours in the absence of the Congress. The Bill fixed matriculation as qualification for general candidates contesting the panchayat elections and middle standard for women (general) and the Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates. For the post of panch, the educational qualification for SC candidates would be fifth standard.
The Bill, which also debarred the defaulters of the electricity bills and cooperative loans and charge-sheeted persons, for offence punishable with an imprisonment of not less than 10 years, was unanimously passed on the last day of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha Session today. The House rejected the amendments proposed by Congress MLA Karan Dalal, who wanted the provisions on educational qualification to go while battling for conditional incorporation of other conditions.
The ruling BJP had a field day today in the virtual absence of the Opposition when the Congress, except Dalal, walked out to protest the imposition of essential qualifications for panchayat elections and termed it “unjust”. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma took a dig at the Congress for ‘abandoning’ the House by staging a boycott. "See the conduct of honourable Congress friends. Their CLP leader (Kiran Choudhary) did not come to the House. Their (Congress') attitude towards their own MLA is not in good taste," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said.
Earlier, introducing the Bill, Development Minister Om Prakash Dhankar said, “Prescribing minimum qualifications for elected representatives would not only help augmenting performance of the elected representatives but also reduce the chances of their being misled and ensure their accountability.”
Chief Mininster Manohar Lal Khattar gave a point-wise rebuttal of the points raised by the Opposition Congress and the INLD, whose leader Abhay Singh Chautala also wanted the essential educational qualifications to be dropped in the larger public interest.
Chautala said the qualification criteria was not there even for the post of the President and the Prime Minister. "Seventy-six per cent population in the villages is not even matric pass," he said, adding that the new criteria would prevent many from entering the fray.
Khattar while referring to some Opposition members’ concern over qualification criteria in the Bill said the Constitution had empowered the legislatures to set criterias for the PRIs. He said today male literacy rate in rural Haryana was 81% and the state was moving towards achieving 100% literacy.