BJP advocates redressal of 'genuine demands' of panches, sarpanches

Jammu, Dec 4 (PTI) As the hunger strike by 'panches' and 'sarpanches' demanding various measures to strengthen the Panchayati Raj institutions in Jammu and Kashmir entered second day, the BJP here on Wednesday called for meeting their 'genuine demands' expeditiously.

'Panches and sarpanches can prove a game changer if empowered properly and bestowed proper respect and protocol. However, no move has been made in this respect so far despite a lapse of almost a year after the panchayat elections,' BJP spokesperson Brig (Retd) Anil Gupta said in a statement here.

Dozens of panches and sarpanches on Tuesday began a week-long hunger strike here in support of their various demands, including the clearance of Rs 1,000 crore liabilities under the Centre's flagship MGNERGA scheme.

The hunger strike under the banner of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC) also seeks to press for security cover to all panches and sarpanches belonging to vulnerable areas and enhancement of the monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 and Rs Rs 1000 presently given to sarpanches and panches respectively.

Making an appeal to the administration to take early measures to negotiate with the agitating panches and sarpanches and meet their genuine demands, the BJP leader said the people have lots of hope from them and look up to them as their representatives who could assist in the resolution of their immediate problems. The elected representatives, however, find themselves helpless as the district authorities do not pay much heed to them,' Gupta said.

'They have a major role to play in the ongoing battle of narratives to change the political environment. The idea of shifting the centre of power from Gupkar Road to Gram Sabhas, block and district development councils is noble but has faltered somewhere in its proper implementation leading to the ongoing hunger strike,' he said.

He said the honorarium given to them is very meagre and does not cater for their basic expenditure to meet their public obligations while performing their duties honestly.

Welcoming Lt Governor G C Murmu's decision to set up a grievance box at each panchayat level, he said, “The common man is looking forward to redressal of their grievances and not merely forwarding grievances.

'They have the panches and sarpanches to approach with their grievance but the later do not have any authority or power to redress their grievances,' Gupta said and requested the lieutenant governor to consider empowering them for a prompt and effective grievance redressal mechanism.

The issue of MGNERGA liabilities also needs to be resolved to ensure that the poor villagers do not suffer for inefficient and inept handling of the issue by the government officials, he said.