Despite growing protest from rival political parties against its move to the facilitate direct election of a sarpanch, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has decided to issue an ordinance to amend the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1958. The Maharashtra government on Saturday forwarded the proposal to issue an ordinance to the Governor, citing urgency in view of the upcoming elections to 7,000 Gram Sabhas in the State. The ordinance is likely to be issued by Monday, officials said. On July 3, the State cabinet cleared a proposal to amend the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1958, to pave way for direct elections of sarpanch to the village Gram Sabha. The decision by the State cabinet was immediately slammed by rival political parties, who alleged it was an attempt by the BJP to appropriate “extra constitutional” authority at the third tier of the government. Senior officials said the ordinance route was necessitated since the code of conduct for September election may come into place by July 31. More time neededThe Election Commission will also need to increase the number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) as a result of the direct election rule. There is no scope for waiting to get an approval from the State Assembly, said officials. “We need to factor in a lot of logistical issues, such as the increase in EVMs and the change in ward formations because of direct election of sarpanchs. For all this, the EC will need time. There is not enough time to go to the Assembly and so we are issuing an ordinance,” said an official of the State government.