ANDHRA PRADESH

MSR puts Govt. on notice

ONGOLE NOV. 9. The Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president, M. Satyanarayana Rao, has warned the State Government that if it continues to neglect local bodies and fails to devolve powers to them by March his party will wage relentless struggle and even take up "jail bharo'' agitation.

Addressing a meeting of the district panchayat raj and civic bodies organised by the Congress Panchayat Raj Forum here on Saturday, he declared that the party elected representatives of local bodies would fight for their rights in a peaceful manner till March and thereafter would intensify the movement.

The local bodies were devoid of powers and funds and thus they were reduced to ceremonial institutions.

But, before the elections to the local bodies the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, had talked much about decentralisation and devolution of powers.

Initially, Mr. Naidu for a long time HAD hesitated to conduct elections to the panchayats and municipalities and, after the elections, had retained all powers with him and thus watered down the local bodies by introducing the nodal officer system.

The PCC president asked the elected representatives of local bodies to oppose intervention of others in their functioning and said: "The party will be behind you in your fight. If the village secretaries try to encroach your powers you give a lesson in a suitable manner''.

India meant villages and if the villages were neglected the economic progress of the country would get crippled, he said and attributed maladies like poverty, unemployment and extremism in society to the economic backwardness.

Explaining the idea of organising panchayat sadassus by the party, Mr. Satyanarayana Rao said they were intended to create awareness among party sarpanches and other elected persons of their rights and instil confidence among them to fight for achieving the rights.

The former Chief Minister and MP, N. Janardhan Reddy, said it was Rajiv Gandhi who had infused life into the local bodies by bringing about the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution.

However, the very purpose of the two amendments was defeated by the State Government with its policies, he said.

The APCC chief spokesperson, K. Rosaiah, the vice-presidents, Gade Venkat Reddy and Nedurumalli Rajya Lakshmi, the former MP, Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and the DCC president, Balineni Srinivas Reddy, spoke.

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