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President N. Uttam Kumar Reddy
President N. Uttam Kumar Reddy

Congress to oppose amendments to PR Act

Hyderabad: The Congress party has decided to strongly oppose the proposed amendments in Panchayat Raj Act and accused the TRS Government of planning to conduct indirect elections for Gram Sarpanches.

The decision was taken in a meeting of senior Congress leaders held at Gandhi Bhavan on Thursday. The meeting, chaired by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, was attended by CLP leader K. Jana Reddy, Leader of Opposition in Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Working President Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, ex-PCC Presidents V. Hanumantha Rao and Ponnala Lakshmaiah, MLAs G. Chinna Reddy, T. Jeevan Reddy, MLCs Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy and Damodar Reddy, TPCC office bears, DCC presidents and chairmen of frontal organisations.

Addressing a press conference later, Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the Congress party would never accept conduct of indirect election for Sarpanches. He said that the Panchayat Raj Act was enacted to empower local bodies and encourage village level leadership for a strong democracy.

However, he alleged that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has been trying to dilute the entire system by holding indirect elections. He said indirect election of Sarpanches would only lead to large scale corruption and horse-trading.

He said no poor person would be able to become Sarpanch as rich leaders would lure majority of ward members with their money and influence to get the post.

Uttam Kumar Reddy also condemned the Chief Minister for his plans to prepone the Panchayat Raj elections. He said the term of existing elected bodies and Sarpanches would end on 1st August 2018. Therefore, it would be illegal to hold the elections in February or before their term expires.

He said it would be an insult for elected Sapanches if elections are preponed. He said that KCR has been trying to prepone Panchayat Raj elections to minimise damage for his party which is facing rising dissent with each passing day. Further, he said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) was yet to publish the electoral rolls for 83 rural constituencies.

He suspected some foul play in delay in publication of electoral rolls which he said should have been completed by December 15, 2017.

Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the TRS Government has completely neglected the local bodies and had reduced the Sarpanches, ZPTC, MPTC, MPP or ZPs to figure heads during the last four years. They were deprived of funds and stripped of all powers. Even the funds sent by the Finance Commission were not utilised properly and diverted for other purposes.

Just in view of general elections early next year, KCR is trying to hasten Panchayat Raj elections so as to create a false impression that TRS was still strong. He said that the Congress party would never allow the government to conduct indirect elections for Sarpanches.

Demanding an all-party meeting on the issue, he said any changes in law should be the collective decision and only one individual or a family was not entitled to meddle with the law as per his will.

Unveiling the action plan, the TPCC chief said that meetings would be conducted in all villages on January 23 and in all rural assembly constituencies on January 27 followed by submission of memorandums to RDOs concerned. He said representations would be made with District Collectors on January 30 against the proposed amendments in Panchyat Raj Act.

Uttam Kumar Reddy, however, welcomed the upgradation of Tandas into Gram Panchyats and demanded that the each Gram Panchayat be allocated Rs. 50 lakh for improvement in infrastructure. (INN)

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