Although the elections are two years away in 2014,the battle line is drawn.In public,it is being dubbed as Rahul Gandhi versus Arjun Munda.Two years after it successfully held the panchayat elections in 2010,the Arjun Munda government had built buildings-Panchayat Bhawans-to house their offices,okayed their monthly salaries and allowed them to supervise the development plans such as Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee schemes.
Also,the move was afoot to equip all panchayat bhawans with computers and Internet.In the Maoist infested areas,the Mukhiyas and Sarpanches were even signing cheques for making payment of wages to MNREGA workers.
Yet,there were some panchayats that were bereft of their own buildings.As a result,their Mukhiyas and Sarpanches were up in arms demanding the same.Some of them,who had joined the Congress party,were critical of the Munda government.”Panchayats are powerless.We don’t even have office to transact business of the elected panchayat bodies’,cribs Ramjiwan Manjhi,a Mukhiya echoing the concerns of a group of elected representatives of village bodies.
Aware of the prevalent situation in the state,Rahul is slated to meet panchayat representatives as well as party office bearers in the industrial town of Bokaro during his two day visit to the state on Tuesday-Wednesday.
”Panchayat elections were held two years ago,but the state government has not empowered the elected representatives.He(Rahul)is very concerned about it”,said Pradeep Balmuchu,MP,who is the party’s state unit president.
Since Rahul,who aims to oil his party machine at the grass roots, is not scheduled to visit any Maoist infested Panchayat where the Munda government claims to have empowered the elected representatives on a priority basis,the ruling BJP is out to ridicule the Congress General Secretary.
”If he is really concerned about the elected representatives and the people,Rahul should first go to any panchayat in Maoist infested area.It is here our government had worked and empowered the Mukhiyas and Sarpanches.The result is evident from the fact that violence was not reported from any of these panchayats for quite some time”,said Suman Singh,a BJP leader.