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Panchs, sarpanchs victims of politics of bluff
11/21/2012 12:26:27 AM
JAMMU, Nov 20: Thousands of panchs and sarpanchs are in a fix. They are confronted with a choice between exercising their franchise and boycotting the Legislative Council elections, scheduled to be held on December 3. They are finding it difficult to decide which way to go. The political parties and candidates which have been fielded by them are after them and seeking their vote and support. There are some credible inputs which suggest that the "parties like the NC and the Congress are likely to use all available means to bring panchs and sarpanchs on board" and that "money and muscle power will also be used to win all the four seats for which election will be held next month". There are also inputs which suggest that "services of elements in the administration and police will also be availed to motivate and pressurize panchs and sarpanchs to vote for the coalition candidates". The NC has fielded two candidates and the Congress has also fielded an equal number of candidates.
It is important to note that most of the panchs and sarpanchs are feeling cheated and badly let down. The reasons are not far to seek. They had been given to understand by the state Congress leaders, including JKPCC president Saif-ud-Din Soz, that they will persuade their coalition partner, National Conference, to adopt and implement the 73rd constitutional amendment in the Indian Constitution and see to it that the elected panchs and sarpanchs were transferred some administrative and financial powers so that they could cater to the immediate needs of people at the grass-roots level. The Congress under pressure from the National Conference leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, have now taken a complete U-turn and candidly told them that the adoption of 73rd constitutional amendment in its present form is out of question.
The Congress U-turn has only disappointed them. In fact, many panchs and sarpanchs have started accusing the Congress of betraying them to remain in the good books of the NC leadership. Their accusation against the National Conference in general and the Congress in particular just cannot be dismissed as something silly and preposterous. They do make a point when they denounce the Congress leadership and charge it with betraying their trust. Indeed, they had reposed faith in the Congress leadership because not one but many Congress leader, plus the state youth Congress, had created an impression that they were committed to empowering them. Today, they stand thoroughly exposed.
It is not the Congress' complete U-turn on the issue of empowerment which has disappointed them and added to their anger. The refusal of the state government to provide security to panchs and sarpanchs and the full support the JKPCC chief has extended to the official stand have further infuriated them, with many of them waiting for an opportunity to resign. There is consensus among many of them that they have become victims of politics of bluff and deceit. One cannot but share their anger and views.
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