POWER, PATRONAGE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
IN THE PANCHAYATS OF KARNATAKA
Panchayats have provided the opportunity for the widest section of rural society to participate in local governance. Social conditions, however, ensure that only a section of the village people actually acquire and wield power. Political power, built through patronage, political experience, and contacts, enables a small number to dominate the functioning of the panchayats. Further, the relatively weak democratic ethos found in rural areas ensured that to most representatives, the concept of accountability was either virtually unknown or ignored in practice. Thus, local governance through the panchayats are not always manifestations of the highest forms of democratic functioning.
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