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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

India

Rahul to meet elected panchayat representative in Jammu today
Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times
Jammu, November 05, 2013
First Published: 23:56 IST(5/11/2013)
Last Updated: 23:57 IST(5/11/2013)

Cong vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to arrive on a two-day visit to the state on November 6. He is scheduled to address conference of panches and sarpanches in Jammu on Wednesday, before heading for Kashmir. Rahul Gandhi had last addressed students in Jammu city in September 2011, though he had visited Kashmir last year.


A day before the arrival of Rahul Gandhi, chief minister Omar Abdullah had once again reiterated that National Conference was a committed ally of UPA and his party's future rested with the Congress.

Elections of panchayati raj institutions were held three-year ago after a gap of about three decades. The state has 29,719 panches and 4,130 sarpanches.

However, coalition partners NC and Congress have still not been able to resolve the differences over devolution of power to panchayats. The Congress has been consistently demanding implementing provisions of 73rd Amendment in the state but NC has not agreed to it till now.

The 73rd amendment provides for reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in all three tiers of the panchayati raj system - gramin sabha, block development council (BDC) and district development and planning board. 

In J&K reservations have been made only at gramin sabha (panches) level. It also provides for elected chairman of district development and planning board, but in the state, a person is nominated for the post.

The government was forced to cancel BDC elections in October 2012 by bringing in ordinance on the insistence of Conges, though Omar had stated in the assembly that elections for it would be held at all costs.

Congress general secretary in-charge of J&K affairs Ambika Soni on her visit to the state on September 20, had set two-month deadline for the NC to incorporate the amendment.

Some panches and sarpanches have recently joined Congress. Rahul is expected to get feedback from the local leaders about the working of panchayats .

Unlike in other parts of the country, Congress is on a strong political wicket in the state even after being in power for five years. There is a feeling in the party that despite the 'Modi factor' it will emerge as the single largest party in next assembly elections.

However, the party leaders are skeptical about having any pre-poll alliance with the NC and it's for this reason even Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Saifuddin Soz had remained non-committal about it.


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