Sirnivas Poojary says the Bill will be defeated in the Council

MLC and the former minister Kota Srinivas Poojary said on Friday that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would oppose the Karnataka Pachayat Raj (Amendment) Bill 2013 passed by the Legislative Assembly in the Legislative Council.

Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Poojary said the amendment moved by the government was draconian and totally against the spirit of participatory democracy. The amendment was passed in a hurry, but it would be opposed in the council, where BJP enjoyed a majority, he said.

He said the provision to disqualify the president or member of gram panchayat by the Regional Commissioner for not holding two successive meetings in the amended Act was unacceptable.

Gram panchayats had limited authority and does not have any financial power. They depended on meagre grants provided by the government. Most of the funds released to gram panchayats were spent on paying electricity bills and salaries, he said.

The number of people attending the gram sabhas and ward sabhas were declining because the people felt that in spite of them raising several issues, nothing tangible came out of the proceedings. “When the funds come in trickle, what can gram panchayat members do?” he said.

Mr. Poojary said gram panchayat members were doing a commendable job in serving people including selecting beneficiaries for various schemes. Instead of disqualifying panchayat members, the government should try to strengthen the basic infrastructure in gram panchayats. It should create awareness about the role of gram sabha and ward sabha.

He said the MPs, MLAs, MLCs, the members of zilla panchayats and taluk panchayats were expected to carry out certain duties. But there is no provision to disqualify them for non-performance. “There should not be double standards for assessing the performance of gram panchayat members, and members of other elected bodies,” he said.

The government is yet to table the amendment Bill in the Legislative Council. “I hope better sense prevails on the government and Should it persist, we will spare on efforts in opposing it,” Mr. Poojary said.

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