The SAD is taking the I-card route to empower its grassroot leaders. For the first time in Punjab,Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy,SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal,will personally hand over identity cards to newly elected sarpanchs and panchs,showing them as representatives of the government.
The Department of Rural Development and Panchayats is currently busy getting the 94,000 identity cards printed. A herculean exercise never undertaken before,the block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs) have been asked to send a list of the winners. Once the cards are ready,these will be given to the BDPOs for distribution.
Normally after panchayat polls,the sarpanchs,along with panchayat members,make a beeline for the chief ministers residence to meet him,seek blessings and show allegiance to the party. The meeting ends with the chief minister posing for pictures with the winners,followed by a tea party.
This time,however,SAD has converted the post panchayat election scenario into a personal contact programme. The first such ceremony for villages in Ludhiana district was held recently.
Claiming that winners have proved their worth and deserve to be specially felicitated,Sukhbir said: Panchayat polls has proved to be important,as it has led to a major churning within the party cadre. Those who thought themselves to be big party leaders had fielded candidates who lost. Those who no one imagined would win,surprised us. Its almost like the soil having been overturned before fresh sowing. It has dented the pride of several persons as well as brought forth promising youth.
The cards too are being issued to the winners for the first time. These will bear the pictures and names of the sarpanch and the panch. The aim is to give panchayat leaders a sense of authority. Over the years,the state government has been able to give panchayats less funds. Most of these have come from the Centre. The least that the state can do is to give them a card like which will make them feel important. At the village level,an I-card is an important possession, said an official.
Recently,the government had given over 3300 red-category entry cards to winners of zila parishad and block samiti elections. It allows free entry into the mini and the main secretariat in Chandigarh. The aim was to allow the members easy access to officials and ministers. Weather panchayat poll winners will also be given the same is under consideration.