JAMMU, Jan 12: Describing grass-root level democratic institutions pivotal for transformation of rural areas in terms of development, PCC senior vice president and former minister Sham Lal Sharma exhorted upon the cadre to gear up for upcoming Panchayat elections and said that it was a big opportunity for them to make another new beginning.
Addressing party workers meeting at Akhnoor today, Sham Lal Sharma said that participation of youth and women is imperative for ensuring their effective involvement in decision making at local levels. He exuded confidence that the sagacious voters would elect dedicated and public spirited representatives who would change the rural scenario by their innovative ideas.
Notwithstanding the spirit of Panchayati Raj System having been trampled by the PDP-BJP dispensation by amending the Panchayat Raj Act 1989, Sham Lal Sharma said that Congress believes Panchayats as engine of political empowerment of the people at large and development of rural areas as per local aspirations. He said the ensuing elections will give new dimension to political discourse in the State with politically sagacious people signaling a change to undo the wrongs committed by the present Coalition Government.
He referred to the amendment in the Panchayati Raj Act 1989 mainly to have indirect election of Sarpanchs and said this will weaken the system and give rise to manipulations. He said Jammu and Kashmir had an indigenous Panchayati Raj System that empowered people to actively participate in the process of planning, executing and monitoring of development at village levels.
Speaking on the occasion PCC general secretary Shahnawaz Choudhary said that conducting indirect elections and centralizing Panchayats will lead to weakening of the institution. Instead of strengthening the institution, the Government has disturbed the basic values of democracy. The previous Government had tried to strengthen the Panchayati Raj in the State by passing the Bill in the Assembly as per the provisions of 73rd amendment. But, the PDP-BJP Government instead of implementing it, has further diluted even the old State Panchayati Raj Act, he added.