ZP chiefs threaten to boycott Council elections

Hunger strike on Dec 11 demanding restoration of curtailed powers


“The ruling BJP government is virtually undermining the very existence of Zilla Panchayats by curtailing the powers. As a result, elected representatives have become mere puppets in the hands of the government,” alleged Basavarajappa, the president of Federation of Zilla Panchayat Presidents and Vice-Presidents Association. He was speaking on the sidelines of State-level convention of the Federation at Nandi Hillstation in Chikkaballapur taluk.

Centralisation of powers

“Nazir Sab, during his tenure as minister had devolved more powers on Zilla Panchayats by amending Panchayat Raj Act in 1973. The representatives of these local bodies, who are more in touch with the electorate, were given wide authority to decide on issues directly affecting public. However, the ruling BJP government has resorted to centralisation instead of decentralisation of power. The authorities vested with Zilla Panchayat presidents are being delegated to legislators and others,” Basavarajappa, who is also the Shimoga ZP president alleged.

The Federation will stage a hunger strike in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Bangalore on Dec 11 to urge government restore the powers of ZP chiefs. The Federation members will not caste vote if the government did not heed to the demand, he warned.

Authority diluted

Basavarajappa said that the authority to sanction schools, sites and houses under various government schemes were vested with the ZP chiefs earlier. The government, however, has been diluting the institution of Zilla Panchayats by withdrawing all these powers through circulars every other day. Even the authority to disburse ex gratia to people affected by natural calamities has been withdrawn.  As a result, the elected representatives are constrained to sit mum, without responding to public woes, Basavarajappa noted.

People elected to Legislative Council through local body constituencies have no concern towards their electorate and as such public at large have been left in lurch.
The delegates of the Federation discussed at length, the consequences of the government curtailing their powers, at the convention. Cutting across party lines, they decided to wage a legal battle if the government fails to act. They felt that the Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister, should, in mutual consultation, arrive at a stand on the issue.

Pushpanaik, V R Jayanth, Jayamala, Girija and Chenduru Venkatesh were present.

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