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Andhra Pradesh - Nizamabad Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Village panels keep candidates guessing

By Ravi Reddy

NIZAMABAD, APRIL 17. The persisting silence on the part of the powerful Village Development Committees (VDCs), parallel governing bodies in the rural areas, on the issue of extending support to the political parties has left the candidates in a confused state.

The VDCs numbering over 130 and predominantly found in Armoor and Balkonda Assembly segments have so far played a key role in the victory of candidates. No candidate can afford to expect a safe passage without the blessings of these powerful outfits which make or mar the chances of any political party. With the polls just four days away, candidates are keeping their fingers crossed as to what decision the VDCs might take.

The village panels, which comprise a representative of each community in the village, usually takes care of the developmental and welfare activities. The panel is so powerful that the elected representatives such as the sarpanch and other ward members cannot take their own decisions in the matter of developmental works. The gram panchayats invariably have to seek the clearance of the village panels to take up any work.

Such is the clout of the panels that any defiance of their diktat would ruin the career of elected representative or the contesting candidates. The village panels, in fact played a major role in the 2001 local bodies polls by passing unanimous resolutions in the meetings to support candidates of the fledgling Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

It was the VDC in Velpur mandal the set the trend for above mentioned election election and in no time a majority of the village panels followed suit.

The decision came as windfall for the pro-Telangana activists as candidate after candidate was unanimously elected. The TRS had a happy time as the village panels went to the extent of issuing directions that no other political party should field its candidates. This led to a lot of heartburn among Telugu Desam and Congress circles.

The ruling TDP, which could not stomach the blatant misuse of its powers by the village panels, lodged complaints with the police. This led to a series of arrests and many a village panel member was booked and sent to jail. In all, more than 30 village panel chiefs in Armoor and Balkonda Assembly constituencies had to serve jail sentence for their rash act.

Undeterred by the arrests, the village panels defied the police and managed to work for the TRS.

It is more than two years since the local body elections were held and the village panels are silent on which party they will support.

The former VDC chief of Ankapur in Armoor mandal, Mara Ganga Reddy, said that in the 2001 elections, the village panels and the farmers considered the demand for a separate State as a movement and hence went outright in favour of the TRS. Another reason why the panels took such a decision was the failure of the Government to provide proper irrigation sources and sufficient power supply.

He says this time the sentiment is still strong but the village panels are not going out of the way to help the pro-Telangana party but the anti-establishment mood is quite visible.

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