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Panchyat Elections, How real –How farce:MPEJ

Jammu, November 13, (Scoop News)- Ram Singh Chouhan and Kuldeep Kumar Rao the active members of Movement for Peace, Equality & Justice (MPEJ), in a joint statement issued here have said that, among others, it is a biggest tragedy in our state that Panchyat elections are never held here strictly as per provision of Panchyati Raj Act 1989. There is always one pretext or the other for the delay of elections put forth by various successive governments to dodge & mislead the rural masses. Sometimes the excuse is either Governor’s rule or law and order problem or unfavorable circumstances due to militancy. Whatever be the cause, the result is that rural people are bereft and devised the right to the poor people to elect their own representatives through democratic process in the biggest democracy of the world in the area of planning, executive & monitoring. Adding fuel to the fire, the successive central governments are witness to this perpetual slaughter of the democratic & constitutional Institution in the state.


The state government once feels starved of the central funds specially allocated for taking up developmental activities in rural areas through elected Panchyats, make big announcements for the conduct of Panchyat elections. The central funds on this account runs into more than Rs 800 crores per annum to spend in rural areas through elected Panchyat representatives. Total lapsed amount due to non-existence of Panchyat Institutions, roughly comes around Rs.25000 crores. One can very well imagine the plight of our rural areas had this amount been spent for the development of neglected & deprived ruralities. This time again we hear loud & big announcements for the conduct of Panchyat elections perhaps to release the central funds which have been withheld by the centre for want of Panchyati Raj Institutions in place.


Another biggest tragedy with the system is that during last 70 years, unlike other states of the Country, Block Development Councils (BLOCK SMITIES) & District Development Boards (ZILLA PARISHADS) have never been formed in the state throwing to winds the provisions of the Panchyati Raj Act in this behalf keeping away thousands of public representatives from the policy of formulating the planning, execution & monitoring of their developmental projects and centralizing the powers in the corridors of civil Secretariat to be exercised by bureaucrats , MLA’s & MLC’s. We strongly feel that this practice became the sole irritant & cause of alienation among the highly educated, un-employed & frustrated youths, who lost faith in the constitutionally framed Institutions and who unfortunately were lured & exploited by our hostile neighbor for causing disturbance, loot, arson & open dance of death & destruction..


As regards plight of original Panchayati raj Act 1989, it can safely be surmised that by making repeated amendments, to suit the interests of government, its MLA’s, Ministers & bureaucrats it has been reduced to a meager toothless tiger. Block Development Councils & District Dev. Boards have never seen light of the day; elections are held after decades to release the central withheld funds; and now the present Govt. with BJP as partner which claim to be champion of democracy & democratic Institutions, has gone one step ahead slaughtering the rights of people by making another amendment by virtue of which a Sarpanch will now be elected by elected Panches & not by public directly through voting thereby paving the way for corruption & horse trading. The Sarpanch so elected shall solely be answerable & accountable to the Panches only & not to the public thereby making a biggest joke with the public. The mutilating of very body of the Panchayati Raj Act, by the successive Governments at the hands of their Legislators & bureaucrats, by making un-mindful and jaundiced application of mind to such amendments can be construed as their sole objective not to decentralize the powers down up to Panchyat level into the hands of public representatives duly elected by them in a democratic manner through constitutionally framed institutions for actively participating in their own planning, execution & monitoring areas. In fact they want that poor ruralites should run behind them with folded hands begging for very small & petty things for their villages. We fail to understand as to why all successive governments at the centre including the present NDA government are a mute spectator to this gory picture of Panchayati Raj Act? Like all other states of the country, why we don’t have Block Smities & Zilla Parishads? Simply blocking of funds for Panchyati Raj Institution for the state, is no solution to the woes of the people. We strongly feel that lot of water has flown down the river Tawi, Jehlum & Chenab during last 7 decades. Time has come when our law makers & bureaucrats should see the writings on the wall and not take the rural people for granted as all the people cannot become fools for all the times.
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