In Gujarat, voting made mandatory

December 20, 2009: The Times of India

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat assembly on Saturday passed a bill making voting to municipal corporations, municipalities, and district, taluka and village  panchayats compulsory. The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009, also ratifies Centre’s suggestion to reserve 50% seats in all local bodies for women. Majority of them, including Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, will go to polls next year. 

CM Narendra Modi and most of his ministers were, however, absent when the Bill was being voted in the House. Also missing were nearly 40% of MLAs in a House of 181. Questioned on reason for their absence, state urban affairs minister Nitin Patel, who tabled the Bill in the House, told TOI, ‘‘The CM was busy. You can’t expect him to remain present for every Bill being passed in assembly. PM Manmohan Singh also is absent from Parliament when voting happens on important Bills.’’

Opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil said, ‘‘The CM is one of the voters in the state assembly, yet he is unfortunately often absent in the House during voting. This is of true of majority of MLAs too. How can we mandate others?’’ BJP MLAs participating in the debate suggested those who do not vote should be penalised with denials of driving license or passport, or concessional bank loan, or government jobs.

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