Jairam Ramesh warns govt ‘delaying’ elections

UNION Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday lashed out at the Trinamool Congress government over the stalemate of holding panchayat elections accusing the state government of “unnecessarily delaying the polls”.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: April 8, 2013 4:08 am

UNION Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday lashed out at the Trinamool Congress government over the stalemate of holding panchayat elections accusing the state government of “unnecessarily delaying the polls”. Alleging the state government was not keen to hold the panchayat elections,he warned that any delay in the formation of the new panchayat bodies could prove disastrous in the implementation of various developmental programmes in the rural areas.

Speaking at a public event in Darjeeling on Sunday,Ramesh said: “If panchayat polls are not conducted in due time,it would delay the release of central funds for implementing various rural developmental schemes and this would a serve a severe blow to the state’s rural population.”

According to an estimate made by state Panchayat Department,the delay in constitution of new panchayat bodies could mean the state losing nearly Rs 5,000 crore of Central funds yearly.

“If the panchayat elections are not held on time,the state could lose nearly Rs 5,000 crore a year as most of the central funds meant for rural areas under cash-rich schemes like Backward Regions Grant Fund and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employees Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have to be spent through gram panchayats,” said an official of the department. “This may spell disaster not for only the rural populace,but also for political parties who will bear the brunt,” the official added.

Another senior official of the department said that a case in this regard is Andhra Pradesh. “When Andhra Pradesh government had failed to hold panchayat elections due to a stand-off between the state government and the state election commission,the funds meant for MGNREGA had dried up. Even after much persuasion,the Andhra Pradesh government had failed to get the entire funds under MGNREGA,” the official added.

The government has been locked in a legal battle with state election panel on when and how to conduct the polls.

Subrata fires fresh salvo on poll panel

With no signs of an early resolution of the panchayat poll deadlock after the meeting between the counsels of the state government and state election commission ending in a stalemate,state Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday hit a fresh salvo on the poll panel accusing it of “wasting” government’s money to fight against government in the court room.

“At a time when the state government is reeling under financial constraint,the state election commission is misusing government money by filing a case against us,” the minister said.

He added that the government has “bend over backwards and now it’s the turn of the state election commission to issue a parallel notification for conducting the panchayat polls.”

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