Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra
Gujarat Saturday became the first state in India to make voting
compulsory in all local body elections, with Chief Minister Narendra
Modi calling it a “move to strengthen democracy”.
Amid opposition from the Congress, the assembly passed the Gujarat
Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009.
makes voting compulsory in elections to all seven municipal
corporations, 159 municipalities, 26 district panchayats, 223 taluka
panchayats and in 13,713 village panchayats of the state.
Piloting the bill, Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel said it
was aimed at making democracy more representative and meaningful.
Terming the bill “an epochal move”, Modi said the educated and the
intellectual class who often stay away from taking part in
grassroots democracy would now have to do so.
was shocking to see that the large mass of people who had collected
to light candles in the aftermath of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai did not
come out to vote with the same enthusiasm,” he said.
decision seeks to overturn such a situation to ensure that there is
maximum participation of people in (elections).”
According to the new law, all registered voters in Gujarat will be
required to vote. Those absent will be asked to submit a valid
reason with proof within a month.
bill empowers the election officer to declare people who do not vote
as defaulter voters. They shall have an opportunity to present their
case within a month.
Exemption will be granted on account of illness, absence from the
country or state on polling day and for any other reason prescribed
by the state.
said he hoped that other states as well as the country as a whole
would follow suit. He contended that making voting compulsory would
go a long way in reducing corruption in the electoral process.
has been a matter of concern for all of us and Gujarat has taken the
initiative to show the way. With the voters going in large numbers
to exercise their franchise, the role of black money is sure to be
reduced and democracy will be the ultimate victor,” he added.
is a matter of discipline. Should an individual not be apportioning
half an hour just once in years to the state? Is that asking for too
noted that 32 countries had made voting compulsory, leading to the
voting percentages shooting up from 45 to over 90 percent.
do you justify a situation wherein 50 percent vote and with a mere
26 percent, people rule for years while an overwhelming 70 percent
remains unrepresented and without any say? The situation needs to be
Congress legislature party leader Shaktisinh Gohil opposed the bill
saying it was “impractical” and “designed with political motives”.