Beggar’s election as gram pradhan sparks debate
Arvind Singh Bisht | TNN Dec. 19, 2010
Lucknow: Can a beggar hold a public office? The question hangs thick after Narayan Nat, a 50-year-old beggar, has been elected as gram pradhan of Sahawar Shah of Badaun district in the just concluded panchayat polls in UP.
The issue has come under scrutiny as law prohibits begging. It is a declared offence and deemed a social evil, both under the Central and the UP Acts meant to discourage begging. This is thus argued that begging is contrary to the morality, which is the essence of democracy.
A debate over the issue holds views both in favour and against Nat’s election. While the development is hailed by radicals as a warning against corrupt politicians, traditionalist and jurists disagree with this. They feel the issue needs to be given a serious thought, as legitimising the malice of begging will only give way to similar other immoral activities like immoral trafficking and gambling in the public domain.
When asked to comment on the issue, DM, Banda, Amit Gupta said: “Nat stands to be disqualified, if he does not give up begging after assuming his post.” Section 92 of the UP Panchayat Act empowers DM to disqualify gram pradhan for any post-electoral misconduct.
However, another side of the issue is that the election of Nat is seen as a rare feat and a warning to the corrupt politicians. As put by UP Congress legislature party leader, Pramod Tiwari: “Technically, Nat’s victory may be incorrect because begging is punishable under the law, but otherwise, his rise reflects the public mind and anger against corruption, practised today by almost all the politicians.”
Reacting sharply to this, C B Pandey, a retired judge and former advisor to the UP governor, said that in spite of everything, begging couldn’t be legitimised. He said that Nat should be disqualified. All the more reason for this, he said, was that Nat in his public position had proudly announced to continue begging.