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Panchayat polls: Appeal to voters to end babudom, contractor-raj from local governance system

Ranchi: Ahead of the upcoming panchayat polls in Jharkhand, which is expected to take place later in next couple of months, a prominent rights body in the state has called for complete phase out of dominance of ‘babudom’ and ‘contractor-raj’ from the panchayati raj system. It has also appealed state government to strengthen the rural governance system in the state by decentralizing all the departments and equipping panchayati raj bodies with powers enshrined in Panchayati Raj act to ensure proper development at the grassroot.

Khad Suraksha Jan Adhikar Manch (KSJAM), an outfit primarily working for food rights among poor and other social issues, on Monday came out with an open letter appealing public and the government at large to utilize the upcoming polls as an opportunity to weed out massive corruption at the level of rural governance. JSJAM, based in West Singbhum district, have begun distribution of their letters in all panchayats to sensitise voters.

“Even though, a decade has passed since formation of panchayat bodies in the state but it is still being ruled by officials and government babus more than the elected representatives. While panchayat bhavans exist, but the centre of power and decision making is still today happening from the block office, testifying how the term decentralisatio of power continues to remain a sham in the state,” read the letter.

It further accused government officials for taking arbitrary decisions without proper consultation with local elected bodies at panchayat levels. “Over the years, elected panchayat members too have turned as their puppets paving way for contractor raj,” it stated, adding that widespread corruption and increasing instances of financial irregularities are often testimony to how the panchayati raj system has failed so far.

Placing their demands before the government, KSJAM has sought amendments in panchayati raj rules and equip it with the provisions of PESA, fifth scheme of the constitution meant for tribal and scheduled areas, among others that are aimed at proper upkeep of the local self governance.

“To voters, we appeal to elect such persons who are the real residents of the area, work towards development of their area, help in proper implementation of schemes meant for the people, are transparent among others,” it read.