People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 02, 2006
CPI(M) Demands Strengthening Of Panchayat Raj Bodies
M Venugopala Rao
IN the elections to the panchayat raj bodies in Andhra Pradesh, the CPI(M) is contesting in 137 Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTC) out of 1097 ZPTCs in 22 districts and in 1622 Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTC) in 575 Mandals out of 16615 MPTCs in the state. It has electoral understanding with some of the other political parties in 101 ZPTCs and 876 MPTCs. Polling was held in 11 districts on June28 and polling is going to take place in the remaining 11 districts on July 2.
The CPI(M) has been waging struggles relentlessly for solving the problems of the rural people. It conducted a massive movement when power tariff was hiked severely in the past. After the Congress government took office in the state, the CPI(M) conducted marches in all the districts in the state to know the problems facing the people. Struggles continued on the issue of disbursal of ration cards and allotment of housing sites. At many places, under the banner of the Party, house sites were occupied and distributed to the people. During these struggles the police resorted to lathicharge, people were arrested and cases were booked on them. As a result, in hundreds of villages the government had distributed banjar lands to the poor. The CPI(M) got pattas issued to the people who have been cultivating lands. The Party has been trying its utmost to expose social problems and caste discrimination and worked for its curbing.
As long as social discrimination continues against the dalits and weaker sections in the villages, they cannot participate in village administration. Though the situation has improved to some extent as a result of reservations, democracy in village administration would thrive only when social discrimination is annihilated in toto. Similarly, bridging the economic inequalities is also very much necessary for village democracy. It is not possible for the landless poor to participate in administration freely where landlords and other influential people are there. Therefore, if rural self-governance is to be practised meaningfully, distribution of land should take place. The people who get right on land can participate in politics also without fear. As a result of land distribution and removal of untouchability under the Left Front government in West Bengal and Kerala, dalits have been participating in the elections on a large scale in these two states. They are playing a major role in the village administration.
The CPI(M) is fighting the panchayat raj elections with the slogan of complete participation of the common people in decentralisation of power and self-governance of local bodies. In its election manifesto, the Party has appealed to the people of the state to enhance people’s representation in the local bodies by electing its candidates. The CPI(M) has been conducting movements by using the positions of power as instruments of struggles for the facilities of the people. It is endeavouring for the welfare of the people. It is demanding the government to provide efficient administration. The Party has been trying its best for getting the issues of drinking water; ration cards, roads, and development of schools, latrines and power connections solved. It is firmly standing against corruption. The CPI(M) has promised to provide ideal administration to the people.
Analysing how the successive governments have failed to provide the local bodies with powers, funds and functions as per the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, the state committee of the CPI(M), in its election manifesto, explained the plight of different sections of the rural people as a result of weakening the role of the local bodies and pursuing of the anti-people policies by successive governments.
The CPI(M) has put forth 42 demands for strengthening the local bodies. Some of the demands are: The constitution should be amended making it obligatory to give powers to the local bodies in tune with the 73rd constitutional amendment. Local bodies should be strengthened as in West Bengal and Kerala. Fifty per cent of the funds of the state budget should be allocated to the local bodies. Budgetary allocations should be made on the basis of people’s plan. The share of local bodies in the stamp duty, which was reduced, should be restored. Revenue accruing on account of entertainment tax, profession tax and mining tax should be allotted to the local bodies. Revenue under cable TV tax should accrue to the local bodies. A share in the revenue of motor vehicle tax should be provided to the local bodies. Panchayats should get revenue under non-agricultural tax. Concession should be given in power tariff to the village panchaytas. Protected drinking water should be provided to every village.