Friday, February 26, 2010

Day-long Workshop on Panchayat Elections in Jharkhand

Panchayat Act of Jharkhand should incorporate all PESA provisions and Panchayet Elections should be held as early as possible

A day-long workshop was organized in Ranchi on 21 February 2010 by the Jharkhand Kranti Dal in which the Panchayet election in Jharkhand, issue of BPL cards to the poor and implementation of NREGA were discussed. Sri B.P.Kesri, Sri N.C.Surin, Faisl Anurag, Arati Kujur and Santosh Rana were present as resource-persons in the workshop.

Sri B.P.Kesri described the political situation in Jharkhand. He expressed his dismay at the large-scale corruption by the ministers and government officials in Jharkhand. While thousands of crores were being looted by the unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats, the people were denied the basic right to food, drinking water, housing, education and jobs. He also pointed out the loopholes in the Panchayet Act.

Mr Surin, an expert in the matter of tribal development, CNT Act and customary tribal system sharply pointed out how the provisions of the PESA were violated in the Jharkhand Panchayet Act. He suggested that the Panchayet Act of Jharkhand should be so amended as to incorporate the provisions of the PESA,1997.

Santosh Rana, General Secretary of the CPI(ML)PCC said that no state government in India has empowered the Panchayats as per provisions of the 73rd and 74th Ammendment to the Constitution of India.The said amendment has prepared a Schedule of 27 subjects (like land-reform, forest management, poverty alleviation etc) to be handed over to the Panchayats.But no state government in India has yet handed over any one of the above subjects to the Panchayats, he said. For example, poverty alleviation is a programme to be carried out by the Panchayats. For this to be effectively done, the Panchayat should be given power to identify the poor. But nowhere has this power been given to the Panchayats. The state governments prepare the BPL lists with instructions from Planning Commission to keep the BOL number within a preassigned limit. He suggested that 80 per cent of the people in Jharkhand should be given BPL cards and the Panchayats be given the power to prepare the BPL list. He insisted that the Gram Sabha (constituted with all voters in the village as members) should be treated as fourth tier in the governance and all important decisions of the Panchayat have to be passed by the Gram Sabha as the budget of the Central Government is passed by the Parliament.He said that there are many shortcomings in the Panchayat Act of Jharkhand and the people should build up movements to rectify them. But Panchayat Election should be held as early as possible. In the absence of an elected body,the bureaucrats have all the power in their hands.Corruption can be checked if the Panchayats function and there is a strong mass movement to mobilize the Gram Sabhas. He also said that the movements against imperialist globalisation, state terror including Operation Greenhunt and forcible land acquisitions for corporates should be linked to the movement for people’s power in which the organs of people’s power have to be electable by the people, responsible to them and revocable. If instead, somebody tries to build a regime under ONE PARTY, then that regime is bound to be bureaucratic, irrespective of the intentions of the leaders of that party. The people of the world have to take important lessons from the experiences in Soviet Union and China.

Arati Kujur described the atrocities being committed by the security forces and asked everyone to oppose them She said that the people were eagerly waiting to participate in the Panchayat elections and these elections should be held as early as possible.

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