New Delhi, Oct. 27: Long pending demands by panchayat representatives for devolution of power to village bodies in the state is likely to get a shot in the arm with the Congress central leadership planning to organise a massive march in the state capital on November 27 in their support.
Party sources in the capital said efforts were on to rope in All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi for the protests.
“Panchayat representatives are planning to gherao chief minister Arjun Munda in Ranchi on the day and will also hold a rally. Our party has been taking up the cause since they started demanding their democratic rights and during his visit to the state in September, Rahul Gandhi had even met them and vowed to support them,” said Shakeel Ahmed, Congress spokesperson who is also in-charge of Jharkhand.
He added that the Congress state wing was demanding that Gandhi should be part of the rally, but it was not certain whether he would be able to be present for the demonstrations. “Rahulji had asked the party unit in the state to struggle for the rights of panchayat representatives and we have been holding block, district and division level demonstrations for the cause,” Ahmed said.
Elections to the panchayat bodies were held for the first time in the state in November-December 2010 but no real administrative or financial powers have been vested in the elected representatives in the last two years.
Only recently, speaking at public forum, Munda had said it was not possible to provide all administrative powers to the panchayat bodies in the state due to inadequate monitoring mechanism.
The state government, according to sources, is of the view that devolving all administrative powers to the 4000-odd panchayat samitis will be detrimental to the process of development.
“The government thinks that complete empowerment of panchayat bodies in the absence of an effective monitoring network might lead to gross misuse of powers. Financial empowerment of the panchayats needs thorough monitoring and it is something that cannot be afforded in the present structure,” said a senior official in state panchayati raj department.
He added that the process of developing technology based monitoring system at the micro-level is underway and some panchayats are also implementing village level schemes through the existing administrative set up.