‘High turnout message to those who boycotted polls’
Centre fully with local Govt Reps: PM
JAMMU, Dec 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that he as well as the Central Government were committed to empowerment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will stand with local Government representatives for welfare of the State and fulfill aspirations of the masses. He hoped that empowerment of democratic institutions in Jammu and Kashmir will be a significant step in taking the State away from path of violence.
Asserting that he had inputs of violence to disrupt restoration of democratic process in the State during Panchayat and Municipal elections, Modi said he was delighted with outcome of the civic bodies elections, which were completely violence free with massive 74 percent turnout notwithstanding boycott calls of the two mainstream parties and threats by the separatists.
The Prime Minister conveyed this to 48 newly elected Sarpanchs from all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir, who called on him in New Delhi today under the leadership of Shafiq Mir, president of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference. The Prime Minister’s Office also issued a detailed office statement on his meetings with the newly elected Sarpanchs from J&K.
National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval was also present during the meeting.
“High turnout in Panchayat and Municipal elections is a message to those, who had called for boycott of the elections notwithstanding the fact that these parties had ruled the State for past several years,” the Prime Minister told the delegation in a reference to boycott of the polls by National Conference and People’s Democratic Party and threats by the separatists, which failed to deter the electorates as well as candidates from participating in the electoral exercise.
Asserting that his doors are open for all people of three regions of the State, Modi told the delegation that the Central Government was taking all steps to restore peace and stability in the State.
“The Panchayat elections will empower the common man,” he said and criticized the negative politics played by some parties during the elections especially those who boycotted the polls and intimidated the candidates as well as voters to stay away from the electoral exercise.
“We are committed to empowerment of the people and Jammu and Kashmir and will stand shoulder to shoulder with the local Government representatives for welfare of the State. We will fulfill aspirations of the masses,” the Prime Minister told the Sarpanchs, an official statement said.
Modi urged the members of the delegation to prioritize people’s interests, who have reposed enormous faith and hope on them.
The Prime Minister, in his Independence Day Address this year from the ramparts of Red Fort, had declared holding of elections to the Local Bodies and the Government kept its promise by conducting elections to Urban Local Bodies after over 13 years and Panchayats after more than seven years. The State Government now proposed to establish three-tier system of Panchayats in the State by holding elections to Block Development Councils (BDCs) and District Development and Planning Boards (DDPBs).
Extending best wishes to the newly elected representatives, Modi called upon them to strive for welfare and upliftment of the people.
The Prime Minister had strong praise for the local representatives for participating in Panchayat and Municipal elections despite threats and intimidation.
“The courage displayed by you in the face of heavy odds and for successfully participating in the democratic process despite threats and intimidation deserves praise,” the Prime Minister said.
He assured them of the Government of India’s full support for making the Panchayati Raj model a success, and responsive to the people’s basic necessities and grievances.
“Empowerment of grassroots institutions is a significant step in taking Jammu and Kashmir away from the path of violence and secure the rights and development of the local populace,” the Prime Minister said..
He also appreciated the participation of women in the recent Panchayat elections.
A total of 48 newly elected Sarpanchs of Panchayats from Jammu and Kashmir called on the Prime Minister today under the leadership of Shafiq Mir.
The delegation conveyed its appreciation to the Prime Minister for empowering the institutions of local self-governance through the successful and peaceful conduct of Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The official statement said devolution of powers at the grassroots level is a unique opportunity for people to become stakeholders in their own developmental process. The J&K Panchayat Act was passed in 1989, but only three of the allotted 25 functions under the Act were actually provided budgetary support.
“The Government has now amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act of 1989 and transferred Rs 2,000 crore per annum to the Panchayats. Another Rs 1,200 crore has been made available to the Urban Local Bodies. The Panchayats will directly monitor activities pertaining to 19 departments/subjects and carry out audits of Government schemes and projects,” the statement said.
It added that elections to the Urban Local Body Wards were held after a gap of 13 years; and Panchayats after seven years in November-December 2018. About 74 percent voter turnout (out of total 58 lakh voters) was witnessed in the Panchayat elections.
To take the process forward, a training programme for 40,000 grass-roots representatives will be undertaken soon. The Sarpanchs will be provided a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 per month will be disbursed to each Panch.
Shafiq Mir, president, All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference also questioned the stand of mainstream parties in boycotting the Panchayat and Municipal elections, which were meant to empower the people. “There was no fun of boycott of the elections,” he said.
“Without the support of the Prime Minister and the Central Government, the conduct of Panchayat elections wouldn’t have been possible in the State,” Mir said and congratulated the Prime Minister for taking bold decision of holding the polls despite all odds.
Shafiq Mir called for restoration of peace and an end to bloodshed in the State. He hoped that the Central and State Governments would take all steps to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.