What are the Graduates’ and Teachers’ Constituencies?

Every five years, as if by clockwork, the gears of the great Indian democracy get set in motion. Newspapers, Television Channels and even Radio come alive with coverage of the elections, endless debates and opinion polls, and exhortations to the public to come out and vote. Increasingly today, even the state elections get significant coverage and public attention.

Yet most of us, except perhaps the most politically inclined, are aware of other elections held on a smaller scale for local bodies like Municipalities and Panchayats, and the Legislative Councils.

It should come as no surprise therefore, that the turnouts for elections in the Graduates’ and Teachers’ constituencies for the Legislative Councils, perhaps the least talked about elections, are often abysmally low.

Maharashtra is one of only seven states in the country to have a Vidhan Parishad, or Legislative Council. This council is similar to the Rajya Sabha at the Centre, and is a permanent body with one third of its members retiring every two years after completing a six year term. While its members or MLCs, have similar status and duties as that of an MLA in the State Assembly, and can be appointed as Ministers, in reality they have fewer powers relating to legislation.

 

In Maharashtra, out of 78 MLCs, 31 are selected by the State Assembly, 21 are selected by the Local Authorities, 12 are nominated by the Governor and 7 are elected each by the Graduates’ and Teachers’ Constituencies respectively.

 

The constituencies, seven each for teachers and graduates, are Mumbai, Pune, Konkan, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, and Amravati.

Unlike the other elections, to vote as part of the Graduate Constituency, apart from being a citizen of India and being ordinarily resident in the constituency, the obvious requirement is that the person must have a Graduate degree from a recognized Indian University, or an equivalent qualification, the results of which should have been declared at least three years before the qualifying date for preparation of the electoral rolls.

Similarly, to vote in the Teachers Constituency, apart from being a citizen of India and being ordinarily resident in the constituency a person has to be occupied full time as a teacher in at least a secondary school or higher, for a total period of at least three years in the six years immediately prior to the qualifying date.

An interesting result of this is that since most, if not all, teachers are graduates, they can vote in elections for the Graduates’ constituency as well in elections for the Teachers’ constituency.

In a time when people are bemoaning the increasing criminality of politics, and the widespread use of money and muscle power to intimidate the masses, these elections are the ideal platform for educated voters to make their voices heard above the din. Teachers and Graduates are supposed to represent a highly educated and intellectual segment of society that can look beyond factors such as caste, community, and religion, and elect the best candidate.

The reality however, is quite different. Due to a lack of publicity and exposure among the public, most eligible voters are not even aware of the existence of these elections. This is compounded further by the fact that a person must register separately for these elections even if they already have a Voter ID card.

Regardless of the reasons behind such apathy in the past, it is up to us to ensure that we exercise our rights in the future. The first step towards this is registering yourself in the electoral rolls.

 

How to Register as a Voter in the Graduates’ Constituency:

Step 1: Download Form 18 from the State Election Commission’s Website, or click here.

 

Step 2: After filling out the form you will need to produce attested copies of your proof of identity and proof of residence such as a Ration Card or Passport, your existing Voter ID Card will also be accepted. You will also need to produce proof of your educational qualifications such as your original degree certificate or a copy attested by a Gazetted Officer in your district, an Additional Designated Officer of the rank of Tehsildar, Principal of a Govt. Degree College/Inter College, Joint Block Development Officers, Gazetted Officers of a Nagar Palika or Nagar Panchayat, or the Booth Level Officer of your polling station area.

An attested copy of your marksheet by one of the above officers, or an attested copy of your entry in the register of a professional body such as the Roll of Advocates, or the Registries of Medical Practitioners, Chartered Accountants, or Engineers, will also suffice; as will a signed affidavit supported by a certificate from the Registrar of your University, or the Principle or Head of the concerned Department of your College.

If you are a woman who has changed your surname after marriage, a copy of the marriage certificate or a copy of a Passport or PAN Card issued after marriage, or an affidavit on Rs. 100 stamp paper has to be submitted.

 

Step 3: The application form and supporting documents can be submitted by Post to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), the Assistant ERO, or the Designated Officer, of your Assembly Constituency, in which case an attested copy of the abovementioned documents needs to be sent.

 

You may also submit the documents in person to the Designated Officer (who is usually an officer of the rank of Deputy Collector or higher), or the Assistant ERO, in which case you will need to produce the original documents for scrutiny.

 

Step 4: Once the rolls have been updated, you can view your name on the voter list on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra (https://ceo.maharashtra.gov.in/Default.aspx)

 

How to Register as a Voter in the Teachers’ Constituency:

Step 1: Download Form 19 from the State Election Commission’s Website, or click here.

 

Step 2: After filling out the form you will need to produce attested copies of your proof of identity and proof of residence such as a Ration Card or Passport, your existing Voter ID Card will also be accepted. You will also need to produce a certificate from the Principal or Head of the Institution where you are currently teaching. If you are not currently teaching but are still eligible as having taught for 3 out of the past six years, you can get the certificate from the Principal or Head of the Institution where you last taught.

The Principal or Head of the Institution is also permitted to submit the applications of all the eligible teaching staff together. If you are a teacher, you can ask the principal of your Institution to undertake this exercise.

If you are a woman who has changed your surname after marriage, a copy of the marriage certificate or a copy of a Passport or PAN Card issued after marriage, or an affidavit on Rs. 100 stamp paper has to be submitted.

 

Step 3: The application form and supporting documents can be submitted by Post to the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), the Assistant ERO, or the Designated Officer, of your Assembly Constituency, in which case an attested copy of the abovementioned documents needs to be sent.

You may also submit the documents in person to the Designated Officer (who is usually an officer of the rank of Deputy Collector or higher), or the Assistant ERO, in which case you will need to produce the original documents for scrutiny.

 

Step 4: Once the rolls have been updated, you can view your name on the voter list on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra (https://ceo.maharashtra.gov.in/Default.aspx)

 

We must realize that if we don’t exercise our right to vote, we have no right to complain about the results. For every complaint about how the educated class lacks the numbers or influence as a voting bloc to matter to the politicians, these elections are the best opportunity to elect the candidate of your choice.

 

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