Srinagar, Oct 9: Accusing the ruling dispensation of violating its Panchayati Raj Act of 1989, senior Peoples Democratic Party leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig has said that the "left over autonomy of J&K was eroded in 1975 when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah got Article 360 amended." He said till July 1975, the State despite facing serious erosion of autonomy still had the power to convert Chief Minister into a President. But, Baig said, the amendment to Article 360 "crushed all powers, thus making the state suffer on all fronts."
Baig said it was a fact that State's autonomy was eroded badly up to 1975. "But till July 25, 1975, our legislature had the power to nullify or to amend any law and we could have easily converted Chief Minister into Sadr-e-Riyasat (President)," he said. "But the then Chief Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah compromised on the Article 360 and we also lost the autonomy whatever was left with us."
Initiating the discussion in the Legislative Assembly on recent killings of Sarpanchs and Panchs, Baig said the government has not followed the Panchayat Raj Act.
The PDP legislator said it was a "biggest surprise" as two Congress ministers were dictating terms to the Chief Minister. "Is he (CM) afraid of two Congress ministers who opposed to holding of Block Development Council elections?" Baig asked.
He said the chief minister's statement has brought the whole Congress party under suspicion. Baig said there was no need to play politics over implementation of 73rd amendment. "State has its own Act. So there is no need to ask for anything from GoI. Why can't we bring a bill? Let District Development Board chairman be elected," he advocated. "Where comes the question of 1953(Autonomy)," he said.
"Despite completing the Panchayat elections in April 2011, the government failed to hold first Panchayat Conference. It has been more than a year-and-a-half, yet no first meeting of Sarpanchs and Panchs was held," he said, adding, "The Act promises holding of first meeting of the Panchayati representatives."
Baig said the government was supposed to complete the three-tier election process of Panchayat Raj System within three months of holding the polls. "Due to the incomplete system, the State is losing Rs 500 crore every year it was supposed to receive from the Finance Commission of India," he said.
He said J&K also loses financial assistance of Rs 100 to 1200 crore annually as the amount was supposed to come to the State Rural Development Department from the Government of India as financial assistance. "I want to ask why there is this long delay in completing the election process?" he asked.