Congress report on 73rd amendment not against Article 370

BIG RELIEF FOR NC

ABID BASHIR

 Srinagar, Jan 26: In a major relief to the ruling National Conference, the crucial report prepared by the state unit of Congress on incorporation of left-over provisions of 73rd amendment of Indian Constitution in the State Panchayat Raj Act 1989 is not against the Article 370 of the State constitution.
 There was an apprehension in the NC camp that Congress report could be against the Article 370 which would further delay the process of holding Block and District level polls. With nothing of that sort found in the report, NC has heaved a sigh of relief and that decks have also been cleared for the much-awaited Block Development Council Elections (BDC) in the State.
 Congress President Saifudin Soz had tabled the report in the last Coalition Coordination Committee (CCC) meeting and the same was referred to the Law ministry for a thorough study to see whether any clause challenges the Article 370.
 “We studied the report threadbare. There is nothing against the Article 370 in the Congress report. We consulted jurists and other experts as we did not want to take any risk,” Law Minister Mir Saifullah told Greater Kashmir. He said there is every likelihood that that the suggestions made by the Congress in its report would be incorporated in the State Panchayat Raj Act, 1989.
 On whether there was a need to consult the party on the issue, the Law Minister said if the need arises, party leadership would be consulted. Law Secretary Ghulam Hassan Tantray also confirmed that there was nothing averse in the Congress report. “It will take us a week more to finalize our recommendations,” he said.
 Minister for Rural Development Department, Ali Muhammad Sagar said since the government has studied the report, decks have been cleared for the BDC elections. “I think BDC polls will be held very soon now,” said Sagar.
 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Saifudin Soz said there was no question of diverting or challenging the Article 370. “Article 370 is permanent. I had written a letter to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that our intention was to strengthen the Sarpanchs and Panchs at the grass-roots level. I had also mentioned in the letter that our report was purely aimed at giving more powers,” Soz said. On when would the coalition decide about the BDC polls, Soz said it is to be seen whether Municipal elections would be conducted first or BDC. “The decision will be taken in the CCC meeting,” he said.
 Sources said if Congress would have advocated things against Article 370, the move was set to trigger a fresh row in the NC-Congress combine. “Congress has kept in mind the coalition compulsions,” a source said.
 Pertinently, the crux of the Congress report is that there has to be a constitutional guarantee to the five-year term of Panchayats and the powers to dissolve Panchayats should lie with the State cabinet. Besides, the report calls for end to nominations system for the BDC and district level elections.
 BDC polls were supposed to be held on November 7, last year, but were postponed following strong opposition by the Congress stating that there was a need of giving more powers to the Panchayat Raj representatives.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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