Centre annihilated Panchayati Raj system, made rural local bodies beggars before states: Congress
On the 25th anniversary of the Panchayati Raj Day, the Congress accused the Centre of renaming the 'Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan' as the 'Rashtriya Grameen Swaraj Abhiyan'.
NEW DELHI: The Congress today accused the Modi government of "systematically annihilating" the Panchayati Raj system by starving the country's local governing bodies of funds and making them "beggars" before respective state governments.
On the 25th anniversary of the Panchayati Raj Day, the Congress accused the Centre of renaming the 'Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan' as the 'Rashtriya Grameen Swaraj Abhiyan', launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Madhya Pradesh today.
It also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop invoking "fake jumlas" (catchphrases) in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, considered a champion of Panchayati Raj.
Referring to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant's remark that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh kept the country backward, Congress spokesperson PL Punia said the official could have instead come up with a blue print telling how the states could be empowered through the rural local bodies.
Speaking to reporters here, he lauded Rajiv Gandhi for constitutionally institutionalising Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in the country.
"On this occasion (silver jubilee of Panchayat Raj Day), even as the prime minister goes on to give his now characteristic, misleading and propagandist speech about the 'abhiyan', the Congress would like to bring to the notice of the people that during its last four years the Modi government has systematically annihilated the entire Panchayati Raj System in the country by starving the panchayats of funds and making them beggars before respective state governments," Punia told reporters.
He alleged that the Centre discontinued its sponsored schemes like the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) and "decapacitated" schemes such as the MGNREGA and others, "ensuring" the PRIs had no funds and effectively nothing to implement under their jurisdiction, unlike what used to happen during the UPA's rule.
"As if this was not enough, the government, for all practical purposes, shut down the Ministry of Panchayati Raj by draining it of any substantive budgetary allocations," Punia charged.
"On this day, in the name of the Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress would like to request the prime minister to stop invoking the Mahatma's name in his fake jumlas and stop fooling the people of this country by renaming schemes, in this instance the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan to Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan," he said.
Punia also accused the BJP-led state governments of creating roadblocks and interfering in the functioning of the civic bodies led by the Congress there and termed it "unfortunate".
On Kant's remark about the backward states, the Congress spokesperson noted the states are ruled by the BJP or it is sharing power with other parties there.
"Kant should have had come out with a blueprint 'what strategy he has to correct things there' it should also be answered if the states were backward, what actions the state governments there took," Punia said.
To a question about surveys in the run up to Karnataka Assembly polls suggesting the Congress is falling short of majority there, he said, "Several people are coming out with motivate surveys to seek political mileage. The Congress is going to form government with two third majority in Karnataka."
Punia also said the Congress will hold 'Jan Aakrosh' rally here on April 29 to highlight the "plight" of farmers, the youth, women, the issue of price rise, the "dilution" of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and other 'anti-people' policies of the BJP-led Central government.
The prime minister today launched a scheme in Madhya Pradesh that seeks to strengthen the country's Panchayati Raj system and address critical gaps that hinder its success.
The central government scheme aims at making rural local bodies self-sustainable, financially stable and more efficient.
It seeks to address critical gaps that hinder the success of Panchayats by enhancing their capacities and effectiveness, and promote devolution of powers and responsibilities.