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Security & Empowerment of Panchs as expected, Congress toes the NC line
11/19/2012 12:21:51 AM

JAMMU, Nov 18: The youth wing of the Congress launched with much fanfare empower-panchs and sarpanchs-movement and demanded adoption of 73rd Constitutional amendment of Indian Constitution some three months ago, saying it was imperative to empower panchayat representatives and enable them to address the immediate local issues concerning people. The movement stands collapsed. In fact, it was bound to collapse and it did collapse. It collapsed after AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi announced in Srinagar last month that it was for the Omar Abdullah-led coalition Government to take a call and settle the issue. He made it clear that he had nothing to do with this local issue. What he said could be interpreted as a snub. The immediate fall-out was the collapse of the Youth Congress movement.

The fact of the matter is that the Youth Congress was never committed to what it had been saying during press conferences. The fact that it had raised its hands much before the Rahul Gandhi's statement could be seen from the fact that the Youth Congress had submitted a few memoranda to Deputy Commissioners urging them to adopt 73rd amendment knowing it fully well that they didn't have the power to adopt or not to adopt the said amendment. The Youth Congress only fooled itself and hoodwinked panchs and sarpanchs. It can also be seen from the fact that no Congress Minister took up the issue during the Cabinet meetings. On the contrary, Congress Ministers and legislators belonging to different formations had, according to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, opposed the demand seeking adoption of 73rd Constitutional amendment. As for Omar Abdullah and the National Conference, they had opposed the demand on day one, thus making it abundantly clear that they were not for devolution of power and that they didn't care for those in the Congress seeking empowerment of panchayats.
Yesterday, the JKPCC president, Saif-ud-Din Soz, took a complete U-turn and announced that there was no need to provide security to panchs and sarpanchs. Panchs and sarpanchs have been demanding security for quite sometime now, saying they are under grave threat - a fear well-founded when considered in the light of the fact that militant organizations like Hizbul Mujahideen have killed a number of panchs and sarpanchs. It was out of fear caused by anti-democratic and pro-Pakistan forces which forced many panchs and sarpanchs to resign and the process continues.
That the JKPCC president would ultimately toe the NC line and express himself against the demand seeking security for the under-threat panchs and sarpanchs was a foregone conclusion. How could he annoy the Congress' Prime Ministerial candidate and Omar Abdullah's well-wisher and supporter Rahul Gandhi? Those who were expecting Soz to put his foot down and force Omar Abdullah, who also holds the vital Home portfolio, were actually living in a world of the past; they had not realized that it was Omar Abdullah, and not chairman of the Congress-NC Coordination Committee, who was the final authority and that the Congress' role was only to obey the diktats of the NC.
Now that Soz has taken a complete U-turn on the issue, it is time for the shabbily treated and unprotected panchs and sarpanchs to refashion their whole approach towards the NC-Congress coalition government and turn towards those who continue to demand security for and empowerment of panchs and sarpanchs.
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