Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lok Satta suggests a way out to get over reservations issue in local elections

The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the State Government conduct elections to local bodies as soon as possible in the wake of the High Court judgment.

Addressing a media conference, Lok Satta Party leaders feared the Government might use the High Court stipulation that reservations shall not exceed 50 percent as an excuse to postpone elections.

Considering that people have been going through untold hardships in the absence of elected governments, political parties could overcome the problem if they all sit together and agree to allocate seats to backward classes as per their old quota and make up for the loss in reservations they suffer in the light of the High Court verdict.

Lok Satta leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, Bhisetty Babji, J. Irama Murthy and Y. D. Rama Rao wholeheartedly welcomed the High Court directive on local body elections.

They said that the Government should go beyond organizing elections and empower local governments as envisaged in the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments. The State Government should devolve powers, resources and personnel on local governments. It should make a per capita grant of Rs.1000 to every panchayat and ensure that problems in villages are addressed at the village level and not at the State level.

Mr. Irama Murthy said that if elections are held and local governments empowered, the Chief Minister need not undertake Indiramma Baatas or hold rachchabandas and grant pensions or houses since they can be handled better by a village sarpanch. The Chief Minister should attend to State-level problems and not descend to the level of a sarpanch, he added.

The Lok Satta leaders also demanded that elections be held to municipalities and municipal corporations and liberate them from rule by bureaucrats.

Mr. Y. D. Rama Rao, Lok Satta leader from East Godavari, faulted the Government for taking a technical and legalistic view of the allegations by an Assistant Superintendent of Police against the East Godavari Superintendent of Police on the nexus between ganja smugglers and top police officials. Instead of ordering a thorough and impartial inquiry into the serious allegations including lakhs of rupees changing hands every day, the Government chose to suspend the whistle blower. Had the Assistant Superintendent of Police had confidence in the Government acting on his charges, he would not have gone public.

Mr. Rama Rao demanded that the Government provide protection to the aggrieved ASP since he feared a threat to his life.

Mr. Rama Rao and Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao said that people have been losing faith in police machinery to such an extent that they are afraid of even lodging an FIR (first information report). Instances of indiscipline among police personnel have become more frequent.

It is time the Government undertook reforms to shield the police from political interference and ensure they are transparent, impartial and accountable.

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