For panchayat members or division councillors, it is often the desire to get re-elected that impels them to work for the development of their respective ward or division.
The reservation of 50 per cent seats in local bodies for women and the subsequent rotation of general and women reservation wards after every term seem to have affected the commitment of people’s representatives towards their wards.
V.J. Paulose, president, Ernakulam District Congress Committee, said the rotation policy has its own pros and cons.
“The accountability of elected members towards people will be lesser. It would be better to think of a healthy alternative. On the positive side, it will give more people a chance to contest,” he said.
C.M. Dinesh Mani, CPI (M) district secretary, said the argument against the rotation policy was flawed, as the objective of a people’s representative should be the well-being of his or her constituency irrespective of whether he or she would be representing the same ward or division the next time. “Making re-election an incentive for the development of the constituency is not a good tendency,” he said.
T.J. Thomas, district secretary of BJP, said the rotation policy was taking its toll on development. “At least that is our assessment at the district level. It would be better if a general ward or a ward reserved for women remains as such for two or three terms,” he said.
T.K. Jaleel, district secretary of the IUML, said though he was not in a position to state his party’s take on the matter, the constant shifting of reservation and general wards affected development. “It’s a fact that after two-and-a-half years into a term, people’s representatives start thinking about the next election. From then onwards, they are keen on dealing with the issues of the people in the neighbouring ward or division rather than the one they represent knowing that they are likely to contest from that ward due to the rotation policy,” he said.
Sebastian Paul, former MP, said despite its good intention, the reservation and rotation policy takes away the incentive of people’s representatives to work for their constituency. “An elected representative, whether of a panchayat ward or Assembly or Lok Sabha, will always have re-election in the back of his mind. A possible solution to the problem is to maintain the character of a ward or division unchanged for couple of terms,” he said.
Deputy Mayor B. Bhadra said elected representatives should be driven by the responsibility towards voters rather than the chances of their re-election. “Elected representatives may be concerned about the fate of the projects they initiated under the watch of their successors. But uncertainty about one’s candidacy next time should be no reason for not giving the best shot for your voters,” she said.