Azad targets State Govt on transfer of power to Panchayats

Azad targets State Govt on transfer of power to Panchayats

19 May 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Jehangir Rashid

Srinagar: Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, today said that last year's Panchayat elections in the State have become irrelevant due to non-formation of Block Development Councils (BDCs) across the State while his party passed a resolution for empowering Panchayats during one day convention of the Congress delegates held at Srinagar. While addressing the Congress delegates here today, Azad said that the benefits of Panchayat elections have not trickled to the grassroots level as the State Government has failed to empower Panchayats. The Union Minister said that holding Panchayat elections without the constitution of BDCs is equivalent to holding the Assembly elections without electing the Chief Minister and the other Ministers. He said delay in formation of Block Development Councils is sending a wrong signal to the people more so those who took part in the Panchayat elections. 'More than 85 percent people took part in the elections. The people who voted were of the view that their daily problems would be solved by Panchs and Sarpanchs, but that has not happened so far. More than one year after holding the elections people continue to approach their respective MLAs for solution of their problems,' Azad told delegates. Azad expressed his disappointment over the delay in implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution giving more powers to the Panchayats. He moved a resolution during the convention seeking implementation of these amendments so that Panchayats become powerful. 'The State Government is un-necessarily sitting on the implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments. Our Ministers too have not put their foot down on this issue and they too seem to be afraid about the dilution of their powers. Everyday matters should be solved by Panchs and Sarpanchs while as Ministers and legislators should take steps aimed at progress and development,' said Azad. He also took a dig at the State Government's decision to transfer powers of 14 departments under the Panchayati Raj Act saying that this too is insufficient. He said in the other States 30 departments' work under the Panchayati Raj institutions adding that same parameters should be applied vis-à-vis Jammu and Kashmir. 'We are in coalition with National Conference this time around while as PDP was our coalition partner for period of five and half years. We are in advantageous position during the present coalition as the key Ministries are with us. This was not the case with our coalition with PDP and that coalition was full of challenges,' said Azad. The Union Minister said that Congress represents the sentiments of the people, both at the State level and the Central level. He asked the delegates of the convention to pull up their socks and deliver to their potential while serving the people. He said Jammu and Kashmir has a special place both at the national and international level. 'At the time of partition in 1947 lakhs of people were killed across the country due to the communal riots. Kashmir was the only place where no communal incident took place and there was no casualty. It was due to this reason that Mahatma Gandhi said that he sees a ray of hope from Kashmir. This all goes to the credit of Kashmir and people living over here,' said Azad. The Union Minister said that Congress leaders had to pay a heavy price when they switched over to the party from National Conference in 1965. He said the Congress leaders and activists had to face a social boycott. He said people are motivated by the policies and programmes of the Congress party adding that this is lacking in other parties. Azad said that most of the Ministers of the coalition Government including those belonging to the Congress feel that they have won a jackpot after being inducted in the State Cabinet. He accepted the fact that he could not establish a contact with the party workers and activists during his tenure as the Chief Minister of the State. The resolution on empowerment of Panchayats was passed after some of the Congress Ministers and legislators seconded it by delivering speeches. Those who spoke on the resolution include Taj Mohi-ud-din, Dharam Paul Sharma, Asghar Ali Karbalie, Mohammad Muzaffar Parray, Mula Ram, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Jehangir Mir, Suman Lata Bhagat, Abdul Majid Wani and Swarn Lata. Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand moved a resolution during the convention that authorised the Indian National Congress (INC) President, Sonia Gandhi to constitute an executive committee for the election of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President and the other office bearers of the JKPCC. This resolution was passed after it was seconded by ministers Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed and Nawang Rigzin Jora. Both Peerzada and Jora supported the resolution and they were appreciative of the role played by Indian National Congress in taking the State on the path of progress and development. All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and In-charge Jammu and Kashmir affairs, Mohan Prakash, said that there are certain issues on which there can be no difference of opinion between the Congress party and its opponents. Prakash said that people irrespective of the political ideologies want better education, better health care facilities, good roads, better infrastructure and eradication of unemployment from the State. 'This delegate session may turn out to be historic one. The people of State have expectations from the Congress and we should not disappoint them. This can be gauged by the tremendous response that Congress general secretary and youth leader, Rahul Gandhi got during his visit to the State last year. People more so youth had great interaction with Rahul and he too was elated over the response,' said Prakash. The AICC general secretary said that USA and some European countries have become jealous of India and they want to weaken Congress so that the country gets weakened. He said the effects of the recession that hit the countries across the globe could not reach India due to the nationalization of the banks done by former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. 'The green revolution has brought about tremendous changes in the economy of country and we are on the path of progress and development. The development can be termed by the fact that US President Barrack Obama during his visit to country sought jobs for US youth in India. But there are people in our country who are jealous of our success and they are out to defame the Congress party,' said Prakash. Showering praises on Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prakash said that Azad is a close lieutenant of Gandhi family. He said that after AICC President, Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Azad is the key man in the Congress party. 'Azad Sahib is a man of crisis and he has pulled the party out of trouble many times. His contribution can be viewed once we go out of the state and see the party matters in the States where he is holding charge. He has rendered lot of contribution towards the party and has always devoted himself for the party affairs,' said Prakash. AICC general secretary, Janardhan Diwedi asked the party delegates to follow the party principles in letter and spirit. He said that the Congress party has always been guided by the pro-people sentiments and the programmes of the party based on the same lines. He asked party cadres to avoid overconfidence while dealing with their political opponents. 'We lost in Punjab due to the overconfidence of our leaders and activist. Every one amongst us would say that Government would be ours but that was not to be. This should awaken us so that we neither complacent nor overconfident. Our opponents work according to a strategy while as we listen to our emotions,' said Diwedi. Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President, Prof Saif-ud-din Soz said that formation of Block Development Councils is necessary for the success of Panchayati Raj system in the State. He said that he raised this issue during the Coordination Committee meeting of the coalition adding that a letter was also sent to Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah. 'It is quite unfortunate that the State Government is not taking serious the amendments to the Panchayati Raj Act. It is due to the slackness on their part that we are not able to reap the benefits of this Act. We cannot wait for more time and this should be taken up at the earliest,' said Soz.