In Andhra, village secretariats to turn game changer for Jagan’s government
The launch of Village Secretariats, a flagship programme of the Andhra Pradesh government, coinciding with Gandhi Jayanti, may turn out to be a game changer for the ruling YSR Congress party.
YSRC president and chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday handed over appointment letters to the newly-appointed “village secretaries” who would be heading the village secretariats at a function in Vijayawada.
Around 1.26 lakh village secretaries would be taking charge of these village secretariats that would bring all government services to the doorsteps of people. In semi-urban areas and municipalities, they would be known as Ward Secretariats.
In all, 11,158 Village Secretariats and 3,786 Ward Secretariats (in urban areas) are proposed to be opened across the state.
“It is a historical day that should be written in golden letters. Recruiting more than a lakh of government employees through a single recruitment drive, it has been the first-of-its- kind in the country. And this was done in a span of just two months, which is another record,” Jagan Reddy claimed in his brief address at the function.
Each village/ward secretariat will comprise 10-12 employees working under various wings of the government, including Panchayat Raj and rural development, revenue, medical and health, animal husbandry, power, agriculture and social welfare in rural areas and municipal services in urban areas.
Besides, there would be a woman police officer and women and child welfare assistants in each secretariat to take care of women protection and counselling.
Jagan said about 500 public services would be delivered through these secretariats with the help of village and ward volunteers. “We have already appointed over 2.8 lakh village and ward volunteers for this purpose,” he said, adding that a social audit would be conducted periodically to ensure transparency and accountability and bring in credibility to the system.
The appointment of 1.26 lakh village/ward secretaries on a permanent basis, each with a starting salary of Rs 15,000 per month and another 2.8 lakh village/ward volunteers on outsourcing basis for a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 each, is believed to be an exercise to consolidate the YSRC at the grassroot level.
“It is a well-worked out strategy by the YSRC to gain a complete grip over the villages across the state. While a majority of the village volunteers, appointed from the local villages, are YSRC workers, the village secretaries will definitely become loyalists to the ruling party. That would be a huge advantage to the YSRC,” says political analyst from Visakhapatnam Mallu Rajesh.
He said while village secretaries would extend all services and government benefits to the people, the village volunteers would be in direct touch with the people through direct delivery of benefits like pensions and monthly household provisions to the doorstep of the people.
“This will help the party to profile the voters’ data and use the same at the time of elections. In a way, these four lakh volunteers and secretaries would become a virtual Jagan Army,” Rajesh said.
Each village volunteer will be assigned 50 households to extend governments benefits and they might as turn out to be the booth-committee members of the party during the elections, ensuring that the political advantage turns in favour of YSRC.
Telugu Desam Party, however, alleged that the concept of village secretaries and village volunteers was nothing but paying government salaries to the YSRC workers. “There is every possibility of large scale corruption at the grassroot level and we will be constantly monitoring their functioning. We shall expose the corruption at every stage,” TDP general secretary Varla Ramaiah said.