Rahul, Omar on same page on Panchayat powers: Farooq

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Oct 2: Asserting that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah were on same page on empowerment of Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and National Conference leader, Dr Farooq Abdullah said today that coalition Government in the State was committed to giving powers to elected representatives at grass root level.
“There is nothing like that (Rahul v/s Omar on empowerment of Panchayats). There is no truth in the reports that the State Government was against giving powers to elected Sarpanchs and Panchs. The National Conference has always stood for empowerment of Panchayats to give powers at grass root level and would continue to do that’’, Farooq said in a chat with media persons at Hotel Fortune Inn Riviera where he had come to join wedding of National Conference leader from Poonch, Dr Shehnaz Ganaie’s brother.
Replying to a question on security to Panchayats in the State, the Union Minister said the Unified Headquarters has discussed the issue only yesterday in its meeting at Srinagar and “I hope that adequate security arrangements would be made by the State Government to protect the Sarpanchs and Panchs’’.
Farooq said he hoped that a decision would be taken on providing security to the Panchayat members. “There can be further discussions and whatever will be good for the people of the State will be done. There is no problem in that. We stand committed to providing powers to the people’’, he added.
Asserting that the National Conference has always stood for powers to the people at grass root level and that Panchayat elections were held after more than three decades in the regime of NC led Government, Dr Abdullah said: “a decision would be taken on empowerment of Panchayats and security to Sarpanchs and Panchs. The Legislature session is also on. There can be free discussion on the issues in the Assembly as well’’.
He added that whatever possible within the Constitution would be done for the Panchayats.
It may be mentioned here that All India Congress Committee (AICC-I) general secretary Rahul Gandhi had in a meeting with Sarpanchs of Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi last week endorsed their demand for implementation of 73rd amendment of Constitution of India in Jammu and Kashmir for empowerment of Panchayats and providing protection to Sarpanchs and Panchs.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had rejected implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution of India. The Unified Headquarters meeting in Srinagar yesterday had put a strategy in place for providing security to the Panchayat members in vulnerable areas.
Replying to a question on floating of political party by Arvind Kejriwal, who had broken away from Anna Hazare, Farooq said it is a bid country and everyone has a right to form his party.
“Ultimately in a democracy, all political parties have to go before the people. It were the people, who have to decide fate of political parties’’, he added.
To another question on allegations by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi that Rs 1880 crore had been spent on foreign trips of Sonia Gandhi, Dr Abdullah said it was not fit for the person like the stature of Mr Modi to level “baseless allegations’’ against Mrs Gandhi without known the facts.
“It is very said that Modi has stooped to low to level allegations against Sonia Gandhi, which have no basis’’, he asserted.

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