JAMMU, Jan 30: The Upper House of the State Legislature today witnessed ruckus as the opposition National Conference and Congress Members held protest, clashed with the members of the Treasuries benches and then staged walk out on the issue of Panchayat elections and alleged bungling in the allotment of funds to the CD blocks during last two years.
The issue was raised during `Question Hour’ by the Congress Member Ghulam Nabi Monga. He asked for the reason to delay Panchayat and Local Bodies elections in the State. He asked what procedures were being adopted by the Government in the implementation of development schemes like MGNREGA, CD Panchayats/ Blocks and 13th and 14th Finance Commission in the absence of elected representatives.
Monga asked that as per the Act, there is provision to have own Election Commission then why Govt is not setting up own Election commission for holding Panchayat elections. How much time it may take for the same ?
The Minister for RDD and Panchayati Raj Abdul Haq Khan claimed that unrest in Kashmir valley during past several months, has seriously hampered and retarded the peace , development and democratic process and the environment was not conducive for election in the rural areas. However, the Govt was committed to hold Panchayat elections in March 2017, followed by the elections of the Municipal Corporations and Urban Local Bodies. Khan claimed that preparations for the Panchayat elections have already been initiated.
Replying to another question, Khan said that after the expiry of the term of Panchayats, BDOs and Panchyat Secretaries have been entrusted with the responsibility of holding Gram Sabha who after meeting pass a joint resolution wherein, they identify the works under various schemes for execution besides taking into confidence the public representatives. He also claimed that there was no sufficient time for setting up own Election Commission. Moreover, State Govt has own Chief Electoral Officer who can perform the same job.
Monga asked how much time Govt required for setting up own Election Commission as per the Panchyat Act and there was still one month time. Congress Member Naresh Gupta stood up and asked during past two years, not even in single Gram Sabha was conducted. The Govt should tell which mechanism was adopted to allot funds to the CD Blocks/ Panchayats during this period. He alleged that junior inspectors were placed as Incharge BDOs who in connivance with the other staff indulged in `Bundar Bant’ of the public funds meant for CD Blocks and Panchayats. No public representative/ MLC was taken into confidence. Showkat Ganai claimed they were never consulted or taken into confidence. They may have taken into confidence the members from BJP or PDP. He said the reply was far from the truth. Upon this all the NC and Congress members stood up and lodged strong protest alleging that they were not taken into confidence while implementing schemes in various CD Block and allotment of funds. They also alleged that no Gram Sabhas were held and minister’s reply was not satisfactory.
They leveled serious allegations of bungling and irregularities in allotment of funds in various CD Blocks and alleged that BDOs and their staff without consulting Gram Sabha members went for allotment of funds for various works on the recommendation of ruling party members. They started strong protest against the Govt demanding reply. PDP members Surinder Choudhary, Yasir Reshi and Saifudin Bhat and BJP Member Sofi Yousuf also stood up and started counter allegations. The heated arguments in both the sides continued for some time. The opposition members raised loud slogans against Govt and disrupted the business for about ten minutes.
The Chairman Legislative Council, Anayat Ali tried to restore order in the House but nothing was clearly audible in the din. The RDD Minister also tried to intervene repeatedly and claimed that he had written letter to all the MLAs/ MLCs seeking their work priorities in their respective areas. He claimed that during small gap of Governor rule, RDD officers had fixed priorities for which he was not answerable and he had tried his best to bring transparency and accountability and did his job with honesty. The people at the helm of affairs during past had developed bad habits but he has stopped all the previous practices in the department and even cleared huge MGNREGA liabilities.
The opposition NC and Congress members including Sajjad Kichloo, Qaiser Jamshed Lone, Showkat Ganai, Ali Mohd Dar, Master Noor Hussain, Dr Shehnaz Ganai, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Naresh Gupta, Sham Lal Bhagat and Jugal Kishore Sharma staged walk-out from the House.