The Congress has lashed out at the PDP-BJP coalition Govt. for weakening the Panchayat Raj system in the state by way of amendment to the Panchayat Raj Act, providing for indirect election of Sarpanch, which goes contrary to the basic spirit of 73rd amendment of the Constitution.Reacting to the assent to the amendment in the State Panchaqyat Raj Act, which was initially withheld by the Governor due to strong opposition from all concerned quarters especially by the Congress party, which had moved a petition to the Governor on July 8, last year and held a dharna outside Raj Bhawan Jammu on July 9 2016, against the bill terming the same, as anti-democratic, retrograde and against the basic spirit of 73rd amendment, JKPCC today said that the amendment would deprive the Panchayats of their authority in the absence of a directly elected Sarpachs.Now with this retrograde amendment, the present Govt. has taken out soul of the Panchayat Raj system and diluted the spirit of 73rd amendment. Not only this, the new amendment also provides for merging several existing and new created CD Blocks, thus the people would be deprived of Block Development Councils (BDCs) in several areas.
Terming the move as politically motivated in order to managed and control the Panchayat institutions by the ruling coalition, JKPCC Chief Spokesperson Mr. Ravinder Sharma said that the PDP which seeks ‘self-rule’ and BJP which used to shed crocodile tears for empowerment of PRIs, stand totally exposed and the later having further surrendered on the issue, for the sake of power. Instead of further, strengthening democracy and grass root institutions, the present coalition has taken a step in reverse and opposite direction and taken out the ‘soul’ of the Panchayat Raj system by way of present amendment.He said, as per original Panchayat Raj Act, the delimitation of Panchayats and elections were to be conducted by an independent Election Commission, appointed through a impartial and transparent manner on the recommendation of a Committee headed by Chief Minister including Speaker of Assembly and Leader of Opposition but that provision too has been by- passed.Sharma said that the NC-Congress coalition Govt., after a long drawn struggle of the Congress party and the representatives of Panchayats, had amended the state Panchayat Raj Act, in March 2014 whereby all left out provisions of 73rd amendment were incorporated in the state law. The said amendment had received the assent of the Governor on March 14, 2014 and notified in the Govt. Gazette same day. The elections to the Panchayats in the state were to be held as per amended Act of 2014 wherein all good provisions of 73rd were included which provided for 33% reservation to women and SCs & STs from, Panch level to heads of District Dev. Boards. Where and what was the need to amend the said law, if the Govt. had no political motives behind this move, he questioned. While stating that the panchs already have the authority to remove the Sarpanch by a vote of no-confidence with 2/3rd majority, as per section 7 of the original Panchayat Raj Act. (CNS)