SRINAGAR: National Conference has described the amendment to Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Raj Act 1989 as murder of democracy, saying this is a well considered machination of the PDP-BJP duo to muzzle peoples’ democratic aspirations at the grass root level.
“The way the insensitive alliance rushed to pass the Amendment Bill, despite strong plea of National Conference for its reconsideration by a Select Committee, speaks of the anti-democratic mindset of the duo and its brazen arrogance at the strength of numbers in the Legislative Assembly”, senior National Conference leaders and the former legislators from the Jammu region said in a joint statement, adding that the immediate fall-out has manifested in the shape of street-protests by stakeholders.
The signatories to the joint statement besides Provincial President Devender Singh Rana included former ministers and legislators.
They said the Bill would lead to weakening the Panchayati Raj System by scuttling the democratic principles. “Introduction of indirect process of elections of Sarpanches will open window for coercion, corruption and malpractices to manipulate these elections”, they said while cautioning that this measure is bound to have far-reaching consequences and shall eventually discredit and weaken the Panchayati Raj System in the State.
The NC leaders apprehended that the Amendment Bill will impact the newly created Blocks and their process of development. “This will wash away and undo the entire process carried out to make small administrative units by the government led by Omar Abdullah in 2014 with an avowed objective of taking administration at the door steps of people and also empowering them by directly participating in decision making”, they said, while assailing the coalition government for its scant regard for peoples’ democratic urges and aspirations.
Dwelling upon the positives of J&K Panchayati Raj Act 1989, the statement described it as soul of decentralisation of the democracy. “Its greatest strength and essence has been to involve the people in monitoring the development process and be active partners in decision making at local levels”, the leaders said, adding that the National Conference has all along considered people as the real fountain head of power.
They said that J&K Panchayat Raj Act 1989 was introduced in the Legislative Assembly in 1989 after studying various models in various states across the country. “This piece of legislation has indeed withstood test of times and has been widely acclaimed as a model Act worth emulation”, they said, adding that this has been amended from time to time to further strengthen the Act for ensuring better governance and delivery. However, the latest amendment by the PDP-BJP combination is an overt attempt to weaken the Panchayati Raj System, they added.