The Congress government in Rajasthan has decided to remove the condition of minimum qualifications needed to contest local body elections in the state, The Indian Express reported. The decision was taken at the new Cabinet’s first meeting headed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

“Our government has decided to remove the condition of mandatory qualification for contesting in local body or panchayati raj elections,” state Health Minister Raghu Sharma told reporters on Saturday. “In a democracy, whether a person is literate or illiterate, when we can’t stop him from contesting Assembly elections, we have no right to stop him from contesting local body or panchayati raj polls.”

Earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party government had made it mandatory for those contesting zila parishad, panchayat samiti and municipal elections to have completed studies till Class 10. Candidates for sarpanch elections were required to have passed Class 8 and those standing for sarpanch elections in panchayats were needed to have cleared Class 5.

The new government decided that the mayor and chairman of urban local bodies will now be elected by the public instead of the indirect method used earlier.

Removing the minimum qualification was part of the party’s manifesto for the Assembly elections, in which it defeated the incumbent BJP government. The Cabinet also decided to reopen two universities – Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Law University and Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication – both of which were opened during Gehlot’s previous term as chief minister but closed when the BJP came to power.

The Congress government will also review textbooks and other reference material revised by the BJP government, School Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra told PTI. He added that details about the roles of national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru will be restored in the curriculum and their contributions will be given their due.