Villagers’ voice stifled, says Sonia | india | Hindustan Times
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Villagers’ voice stifled, says Sonia

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, 62, on Friday said panchayati raj institutions were often undermined by politics and selfish motives.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2009 02:22 IST

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, 62, on Friday said panchayati raj institutions were often undermined by politics and selfish motives.

“In many states, panchayats have been dismissed summarily. In villages the voice of the people is still stifled. The Congress is striving to work in the right direction.”

Gandhi was speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the 50th year of Panchayati Raj at a government college in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, about 290 km west of state capital Jaipur.

It was on this day in Nagaur in 1959 that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation of Panchayati Raj, a decentralised form of government where each village is responsible for running its own affairs.

In New Delhi, at another commemorative event, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 77, criticised the states for not delegating funds and functionaries to the panchayati raj institution, which would enable them to evolve schemes for economic empowerment. “We need to reform the system,” he said.

He also re-christened the government’s flagship job scheme as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).

“Mahatma Gandhi emphasised on gram swaraj (village self-rule). To name the rural job guarantee scheme after him is our humble tribute to the Father of the Nation,” Singh said.

The change of name came amid reports that opposition-ruled states were claiming ownership of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).