Cong, NC, PDP thwarted Panchayat, BDC polls: Dr Jitendra

Avtar Bhat

KATHUA, Sept 30: Accusing Congress, National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of always thwarting the Panchayat and Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister in PMO with independent charge of North Eastern States, Dr Jitendra Singh today said that these parties never allowed to strengthen basic institutes of democracy in the State during their rule.

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Addressing a public gathering here, Dr Jitendra Singh blamed these parties of hoodwinking the people of the J&K in the name of fanciful slogans like “Autonomy” , “Self-rule”, etc.
He lauded the announcement to hold Block Development Council (BDC) elections and said that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is committed to strengthen grass root democracy in Jammu & Kashmir. This, he said, will provide an opportunity to the people of J&K to give expression to their democratic aspirations, in the same manner as in the rest of the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh reiterated that with the abrogation of Article 370 and commitment shown by Modi Government in strengthening basic democratic institutions in J&K, the people of all three regions will in real sense now reap the fruits of democracy which they were denied so far.
He said the Kashmir centric parties which advocated for autonomy and self rule never allowed the democracy to be strengthened at grass root level and they were always opposed to Panchayat and Block Development Council (BDC) elections in the State. Not this even they created impediments in implementation of Constitutional 73rd and 74th amendments meant for strengthening the basic institutes of democracy for their vested political interests.
He said even though the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments were made during the Rajiv Gandhi Government but the Congress party which was alliance partner of National Conference as well as PDP failed to get it implemented in the State with the result the Panchayats and local bodies were deprived of Central funding directly meant for their empowerment. This way the common masses in the State for years together could not reap the fruits of democracy at grass root level, he added.
Dr Jitendra Singh recalled that how Kashmir-centric political parties had always put a stumbling block against genuine grass root democracy in Jammu & Kashmir. He said, the hollow claims of “autonomy” made by National Conference stood exposed on the day when it decided to boycott the Panchayat elections and also tried to dissuade people from participating in it.
Similarly, the self-righteous agenda of “Self-rule” put across by the PDP also stood exposed, when it boycotted the Panchayat elections. It is the right time for the people to ask, he said, whether it is “Autonomy for the Self” or “Rule by the Self” that these political parties have been promoting in order to continue their dynastic rule.
It was during the Governor’s rule that the Panchayat election was held and not a single incident of violence took place and now, close on the heels, the BDC elections are going to be held, as a follow – up to the Panchayat elections, he said adding that 40,000 Panches and Sarpanches were elected in the State during the Governor’s rule and entire election process ended smoothly.
Refuting that candidates of political parties going to contest the BDC elections are in jail, Dr Jitendra Singh said such allegations are totally baseless.
This he said, coupled with the introduction of 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Indian Constitution, will ensure power to the representatives at the Village and Block level, which will, in turn, pave the way for a new and genuine leadership to emerge from the ground and not to be imposed  through family lineage.
Referring to the first 100 days of the Modi Government in its second term, Dr Jitendra Singh said, while abrogation of Article 370 has been the biggest achievement, in Kathua itself two major achievements have been the beginning of the first academic session of the Government Medical College and  issue of the notification of reservation for people living along the International border. He said, Kathua has the pride to have two Recreational Parks namely “Dreamland Park”  and “Birla Park” coming up within one year, which surpass any other similar Park that, on date, exists in the capital city of Jammu.
On the occasion, Dr Jitendra Singh also took part in plantation drive. Former Minister Rajeev Jasrotia, BJP leader Naresh Sharma, district president BJP, Prem Nath Dogra, BJYM National Executive Member Bharat Sharma and other party leaders were present on the occasion.