Kerala

UDF to protest against bid to choke local bodies

Congress to take out Assembly march today

The Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has virtually upstaged the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on the issue of decentralisation of power to local bodies under the Pinarayi Vijayan dispensation.

The Congress is all set to lead a series of agitations beginning with an Assembly march on Monday against the government’s “attempts to throttle the local bodies administratively and financially”.

Decentralisation of power has been a constant for successive LDF governments since the advent of panchayati raj system. The Nayanar government was the first to announce devolution of 33% of the Budget funds to local bodies, which later became a norm. The Achuthanandan government also gave much importance to local bodies, routing a seizable amount of development allocation through the local bodies, with the Planning Board playing a pivotal role. Obversely, The Congress and the UDF it leads had always been depicted as opponents of decentralisation.

After the LDF government assumed office, the State has been witnessing a general trend of centralisation of development activities, with not much emphasis being laid on the role of local bodies. The end of the planning era and the advent of the Niti Aayog appear to have come in handy for this subtle shift in development priorities. The State government’s decision to meet the Plan expenditure incurred by the local bodies in 2018-19 from the current year’s allocation has apparently given a handle to the UDF.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who is scheduled to inaugurate the Assembly march on Monday, said the successive LDF governments have never failed to talk about decentralisation of administration and empowerment of the local bodies. But the LDF government has now pushed the three-tier panchayats into an administrative crisis by failing to release promised Budgetary funds, he said.

Spillover works

Usually, the government treats all development work that remain incomplete on March 31 as spillover work and make separate Budget provisions in the following financial year. This was done primarily to ensure that the funds allocated for a particular year do not get lapsed.

Congress members of all local bodies will participate in the Assembly march, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 11:05:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/udf-to-protest-against-bid-to-choke-local-bodies/article28236656.ece

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