JAMMU, Oct 21: The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) has taken strong exception to the arbitrary decisions, regarding the creation of District Development Council seats ignoring the population and topography of districts besides disempowering the elected BDCs mid-way, since the BJP had failed to win the majority of seats in the elections to the Pachayat bodies, even in the absence of any major opposition parties in the fray.
Addressing press conference here today, PCC chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma along with general secretary PCC Incharge Jammu District and former Minister Yogesh Sawhney and Secretary Incharge Media Neeraj Gupta, questioned the sudden introduction for the change of Panchayat Raj system during the current term of the elected Panchayat bodies, thereby, disempowering them besides adopting an arbitrary creation of DDC seats neglecting the criteria of population in bigger districts besides ignoring the topography etc. which has caused total confusion and chaos in the PRIs.
“On one hand the ruling BJP was instrumental in weakening the important provisions of 73rd and 74th incorporated in the state Panchayat Raj laws besides not implementing the most important provisions of independent “Election Commission”, “Finance Commission” and apex anti-corruption body “Ombudsman” which shows the real intention of the ruling BJP, he added.
Sharma reminded the BJP in coalition with PDP was instrumental in the weakening of 73rd when it amended the Panchayat Raj Act to avoid direct elections to Sarpanchs. Then Governor NN Vohra had later undone the said amendment, after the Congress and other opposition groups as well general public opposed the BJP attempt to weaken the Panchayat Raj system. When elections to the BDCs were held, the BJP was badly defeated and could not win majority of seats in the various districts, as a result the BJP Govt came out with new structure for the District Boards without adopting a fair criteria of delimitation of council seats.
“What is the justification for the equal number of seats for larger districts like Jammu, Rajouri, Kathua as compared to smaller districts with two or three assembly segments. The number of BDC seats should have been proportional to the population of the respective districts with more seats to bigger districts and this task of delimitation was to be done by Independent Election Commission for fairness and transparency,” Sharma said.
The job of delimitation was assigned to the Election Commission in the state also, as provided by the 73rd in the act where a retired High Court judge or a person of the level of High Court judge had to head the state election commission, but it was diluted by ruling BJP-PDP Govt to keep control over the system and now see the result where only three days have been given for filing objections, whereas the basic formula of the creation of equal number of DDC seats is arbitrary and unjustified.
The Finance Commission Act was enacted by Congress-NC besides apex anti-corruption body “ombudsman” Act in 2010 but the Govt failed to set up these important institutions for the financial viability and accountability of the Panchayat Raj System, Sharma said.
Favouring full empowerment of the PRIs in terms of 73rd & 74th and implementation of already incorporated provisions in the state act, the JKPCC demanded due share to each district depending upon its population.