No Consensus On Panchayat Polls28 January 2011
Jammu: There is no consensus yet between the ruling coalition partners–National Conference and Congress- over the schedule for holding Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, with one of the alliance partners Friday making it clear that it will not participate in the polls if the state government fails to incorporate 73rd amendment of Constitution of India into State Panchayati Raj Act. The issue, according to sources, dominated the state cabinet meeting which met here this morning under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Sources said the National Conference ministers were in favour of holding early Panchayat elections in the state and it was suggested that the issue regarding incorporation of 73rd amendment – which makes Panchayats financially and administratively independent – be taken up after holding the elections. However, the sources said, some of the Congress ministers expressed their dissatisfaction over the proposal and instead pressed for their demand for amendment in the Act. It was also pointed out that the committee constituted by the Coalition Coordination Committee comprising two senior leaders each from NC and Congress has failed to meet over the issue. As the meeting failed to evolve consensus over the matter, a cabinet sub-committee was constituted to find a middle path, a minister told Greater Kashmir. The committee comprises of Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma, Minister for Revenue Raman Bhalla, Minister for PHE Taj Mohi-Ud-Din, Minister for Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir, Minister for Finance and Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. “The committee will submit its report in three days following which a final decision with regard to the schedule of elections will be taken,” the sources said, adding that the sub-committee will meet here on Saturday. Panchayat elections in the state have been postponed for varied reasons. Though all the preparations have been finalized, the government is yet to announce the dates. The state has 2,700 Panchayats out of which elections were held in about 1,900 in 2001. Congress has been pressing hard to get the 73rd and 74th amendment of Constitution of India which makes it obligatory for all the states to amend their Panchayat Raj Act. Both these amendments are aimed to make Panchayat Raj institutions more viable, autonomous and more responsible bodies and provide sufficient representation to weaker sections like SC-STs and women. CABINET SUB-COMMITTEE ON JSC REPORT MEETS Meanwhile the first meeting of the cabinet sub-committee on fifth Working Group about State-Centre relationship was held here on Friday. The meeting, the sources said, discussed the recommendations made by the committee headed by Justice Sager Ahmed and it was impressed upon all the members to suggest the ways and means for implementation of the recommendations. The members were asked to have an in-depth study of the recommendations of the Working Group so that a holistic and realistic report is prepared for the Cabinet as early as possible. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had constituted five Working Groups on varied issues related to Jammu and Kashmir to address the urges and aspirations of the people of the State which also included Working Group headed by Justice Sager Ahmed on Centre-State relationship. The Working Group after exhaustive exercise on the subject involving many political and social leaders recently presented its report to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The Centre has sought state’s views and observations on the recommendations of the Justice Sageer Working Group. It is in this backdrop that the State Government constituted a Cabinet-Sub Committee headed by Finance Minister to have a holistic overview of the recommendations of the Working Group.