Senior Congress leader and MP Mani Shankar Aiyar on Saturday urged the Jammu and Kashmir government to implement the state's Panchayati Raj Act in letter and spirit.
Speaking at an interactive programme with panches and sarpanches in central Kashmir's Budgam district, Aiyar evaded a query on the introduction of 73rd Constitutional amendment in the state.
"I don't want to speak on whether 73rd amendment should be introduced or not in the state. But the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Raj Act of 1989 is a very good law. The only thing which is needed is that it should be implemented in letter in spirit," Aiyar said.
The history of Village Panchayat Regulation laws in the state dates back to 1935 during the period of autocracy. However a proper and full-fledged Panchayati Raj Act was introduced in J&K assembly in April 1988 and passed in March 1989.
Like the 73rd amendment, the JK Act provides for a three-tier system consisting of halqa panchayat, block development council and district planning and development board. In addition, the Act provides for a panchayati adalat for every halqa.
Aiyar wanted chief minister Omar Abdullah to document the powers of representatives of PRIs to make sure that everybody was aware of the issue.
"I am pained to see that these elected representatives are not happy with the state of affairs here. Omar's endeavor to strengthen panchayats would have strengthened his own government," said Aiyar, who was flanked by state Congress chief Saif-u-din Soz.
Despite the passage of more than year and a half, the government has not been able to conduct the second and third phase of panchayati elections. More than 80% people had turned out to vote in panchayat elections last year to elect over 34,000 grassroots-level representatives.
The issue of trickling the power on the ground to these representatives has raised much heat in the valley. Earlier this week, panchayati raj minister Ali Mohammad Sagar came out with the government stand to make sure that powers were decentralised to panches and sarpanches at ground level.