73rd amendment, differences on BDC polls

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 14: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today stepped into the Alliance Core Group meeting to resolve differences on the issue of implementation of the provisions of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India in Jammu and Kashmir and reservation in Block Development Council (BDC) elections for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.
Members of the Core Group of National Conference and Congress today met the Chief Minister after their internal meeting and apprised him of the headway made so far on the issue of implementation of 73rd amendment and reservation in the BDC elections.
The Core Group meeting with Mr Abdullah held this evening lasted about two hours, official sources told the Excelsior.
While all five members of the Congress in the Core Group were present in the meeting with Omar, only two members from the National Conference joined the meetings as two others were pre-occupied.
The Congress members included Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma, GA Mir, former Minister and MLA, Ravinder Sharma, MLC and Bashir Ahmad Magray, PCC (I) vice president while National Conference members, who joined the Chief Minister in the meeting, were Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather and Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar.
Two other National Conference members including Industries and Commerce Minister Surjit Singh Slathia was in Jammu while Political Advisor to Chief Minister Devender Rana was busy in a function.
Sources said there was near unanimity between the coalition partners that major provisions of 73rd amendment of the Constitution should be incorporated in the State Panchayati Raj Act. However, the differences persisted in the Alliance on the issue of reservation in the BDC elections at this stage when process for the polls had already been set into motion.
While the Congress wanted the election process to be stopped, the Act amended for providing reservation to SCs/STs and women and then holding the polls, the National Conference was of the view that the Government should go ahead with the BDC elections at this stage and give reservations in third tier of the Panchayat polls i.e. the District Development and Planning Board.
Moreover, the NC leadership was of the view that when major provisions of 73rd amendment were incorporated in the State Panchayati Raj Act, the reservations would automatically become part of all future Panchayat polls.
Sources said the reservation remained the unresolved issue as the Congress was eyeing the vote bank of SCs and other categories by raising the bogey of reservations at the stage when election process for the BDC elections has been set into motion and October 17 was last date for filing the nomination papers. The NC leaders were reported to have questioned that why the Congress leaders didn’t object to provisions of the Act when it was passed in the Legislature in which there was no mention of reservations.
The NC leadership has assured the Congress that the issue of reservations in the BDC elections could be compensated by the way of nominations as there was a provision in the Act for nomination of two each members from SC, ST and women in every BDC if they were not adequately represented in the Council.
However, according to sources, the Congress was insisting on its demand for holding the BDC elections only after implementing the provision of reservation for SC/STs and women.
Sources said the National Conference was of the view that empowerment of Panchayats by implementing second tier of Panchayati Raj in the form of Block Development Councils shouldn’t be stopped at this stage and allowed to proceed smoothly so that the BDCs were in place by next month. It has assured the Congress that there would be reservations to all three categories i.e. SCs, STs and women in third tier of Panchayats (the District Development and Planning Boards).
The Congress representatives were of the view that they were satisfied with incorporation of major provisions of 73rd amendment in the State Panchayati Raj Act and were ready to dilute their demand for direct implementation of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India. Sources said the Congress representatives have conveyed the Government stand on 73rd amendment and BDC elections to their high command.
It may be mentioned here that only yesterday Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had batted for reservations to SC/STs and women in the Panchayat elections saying the polls without reservations would be meaningless and irrelevant.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had in the just concluded session of the Assembly categorically ruled out reservations in the BDC polls on the ground that the Government stands for empowerment of Panchayats for which the process to hold first ever elections to the Council has been set into motion. He had assured reservations in the BDCs by way of nominations for which a provision existed in the Act.
The Alliance Core Group had met on October 11 and 12 to discuss the issue of implementation of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India. The Congress had said it was ready to dilute its stand on implementation of 73rd amendment of the Constitution of India in Jammu and Kashmir if its major provisions were adopted in the State Panchayati Raj Act. Both sides were unanimous on the issue.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here