Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for an end to the practice of “husbands of women sarpanches” or “sarpanch pati” exercising undue influence on the work of their wives elected to power.
At an event to mark the National Panchayati Raj Day here, Mr. Modi hailed the contribution of women to the functioning of panchayats. He urged panchayat members to work with a five-year vision with concrete plans to bring about positive changes in their villages.
Mr. Modi urged panchayat members to instil pride about the village. He said issues such as education of children and vaccination for them should be paid special attention. Mr. Modi asked panchayat members to motivate government officials to spend at least one hour a week with the school-going children.
He gave away the Annual Devolution Index (States) Awards and e-Panchayat awards and congratulated the zila parishads and gram panchayats which were being felicitated on the occasion.
Recalling a political event in which someone told him that he was an SP ( sarpanch-pati ), Mr. Modi said, “this business of SP is going on. Law has empowered women. When law has given them the rights, they should also get an opportunity. Bring to an end this SP culture. They (women) should be given the opportunity. They should be promoted.”
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, the Prime Minister said,”India lives in the villages. We need to think of how to develop our villages. Even in the remotest village, the dreams of the people are big. Think about what you can achieve in the next 5 years for your village.”
Referring to his visit to an all-women Gram Panchayat in Gujarat when he was Chief Minister, Mr, Modi said that the sarpanch told him there that her motto was to ensure that no one remains poor in the village.
“Has Panchayats in our country ever thought that there should be no poor left in our country. If one village brings out five persons out of poverty in a year, what a big change will come in the country,” he said.
He urged Panchayat members to work with a five-year vision with concrete development plans to bring about positive changes in their villages.
About reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions, he said this does not exist in many countries and they get surprised to know that it already exists in India.
Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Chaudhary Birender Singh said seats for panchayat representatives belonging to women, SC and ST should be reserved for two terms (10 years) instead of the current one term of five years.
The minister also rued that a number of states have not delegated powers to the representatives of panchayats despite laws mandating it.
He said that while the country is fortunate that it has a structure of Panchyati Raj to provide good governance, “it’s a matter of concern that most of the village panchayats lack technical infrastructure“.
Mr. Singh also underlined the need to prepare the panchayats to play a central role in the nation’s development.
Lauding the Prime Minister’s initiatives, Mr. Singh said the panchayats have been provided 3.5 times more money under the 14th Finance Commission in comparison to what they were given earlier, which will enable them to get a whopping Rs 2,00,292 crore money in the next five years.
“Each panchayat will get Rs 15 lakh annually. The big ones will get up to Rs 1 crore. So much money was never given to panchayats in the last 60 years,” Mr. Singh said.
Minister of State Panchayati Raj Shri Nihal Chand was also present on the occasion.