Rahul Contradicts Omar On Empowerment Of Panchayats

Rahul Contradicts Omar On Empowerment Of Panchayats

7 November 2013
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday contradicted Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on empowerment of panchayats. Rahul said Omar’s assertions regarding disruption of a rally by a sarpanch in Jammu on Wednesday was not right. Omar, who along with Rahul, while addressing a rally in Lassipora area here on Thursday, said the sarpanch belonged to the opposition National Panthers Party (NPP). “Everyone knows what relation he (sarpanch) has with a leader of the NPP. What rights the sarpanch was talking about? They (sarpanches) can check attendance in schools, colleges and can also check ration depots. But if they aren’t interested in it what can we do,” Omar said during his speech. The chief minister said that Panchayati Raj in J&K was a long cherished dream of his grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Indira Gandhi. “It was fulfilled by us in 2011 when panchayat elections in the state were held after three decades. I assure people that power will remain with them,” he added. Omar claimed that Panchayati Raj had become a subject matter of politics in the state and politicians want to do politics on it but his government is committed to achieve the goal of powerful Panchayats. However, Gandhi contradicted Omar’s assertions by saying Panchayati Raj is not a matter of money, but it is a question of decentralisation of powers. Rahul said: “The sarpanch who disrupted the meeting yesterday (Wednesday) was right. His method wasn’t good, but the way we haven’t given powers to them (panchayat members), we should look into it.” “Omar talked about Panchayati Raj. It is not matter of money but it is question of decentralisation of powers. We want 73rd amendment (of Constitution in the state’s Panchayati Raj Act). They (sarpanches) should have the same powers as MLAs,” he added. The Congress vice-president stressed holding the block and district council elections at the earliest and hoped that the reservation issue would be settled soon.