Village communities have been in existence in India for over centuries and Panchayats have been part of these communities since then. Evidence suggests that during the time of the Rig Veda (1200 BC) Â self-governing village bodies called sabhas existed.
With the passage of time, these bodies evolved into Panchayats (council of five persons). These bodies were functional institutions of grassroots governance in almost every village. The village panchayat or elected council had large powers, both executive and judicial.
Panchayati Raj is basically a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of administration. It has 3 levels: village, block and district. At the village level, it is called a Panchayat. It is a local body working for the good of the village. The number of members usually ranges from 7 to 31; occasionally, groups are larger, but they never have fewer than 7 members.
The block-level institution is called the Panchayat Samiti. The district-level institution is called the Zilla Parishad.
Powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions
The ruling Congress in Rajasthan has promised to devolve substantial powers to the Panchayati Raj institutions in the state.
All round development of villages, granting funds to panchayats and imparting more functional powers would be the first priority of the Congress government in Rajasthan.
Panchayati Raj Polls â€“ I Phase
The first phase of Panchayati Raj polls in Rajasthan to elect 390 members of Zila Parishad and 1,915 members of Panchayat Samiti was held on 20 January. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were used to conduct the polls .
Panchayati Raj Polls â€“ II & III Phase
The second phase of polls were held on January 29, and today February 2 the III phase was conducted.
There are total of 1013 members in 33 Zila Parishads (district level) and 5273 members in 248 Panchayat Samitis.
Nearly 1.34 lakh police personnel were deployed to conduct free and fair elections.