Congress opposes Political colour to Goa Panchayat Polls

Posted on 9th Feb 2015 01:14 pm by mohit kumar

anaji, Feb 7 (IANS) The Congress Saturday joined the Roman Catholic Church in Goa to oppose the state government's move to hold zilla panchayat elections on political party lines.

The Congress opposition comes a day after the social wing of the Church criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in Goa for announcing that the ordinance route would be chosen in mid-February to allow zilla panchayat polls on political party lines.

In a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro claimed that the ordinance would make a mockery of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's vision of grassroots democracy implemented through the "73rd and 74th constitutional amendments which granted sanctity to panchayat and municipal bodies".

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar last week announced that the polls would be tentatively held next month and that an ordinance would be issued later this month (the ordinance cannot be promulgated in view of the Panaji by-polls and the code of conduct being in place) on party lines.

Parsekar said the Representation of Peoples Act had been amended by the cabinet and that an ordinance would follow later this month.

"Fighting the zilla panchayat election on political lines will lend stability to these institutions," Parsekar said, hinting that the panchayat election could also be contested on party lines in future.

The chief minister had said that he did not need to take the opposition into confidence while taking the decision because it is the government "which has the prerogative to take such decisions".

The government's move has, however, been opposed by the Church in Goa, which has significant socio-political clout in the state, where 26 percent of the population is Catholic.

In a letter to Parsekar Friday the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), the social wing of the Church, called the government's decision "deplorable and worrisome in a democracy".

"This ordinance is against the very spirit of the 73rd Constitution Amendment which is about enabling grassroot governance in village affairs," executive secretary of the CSJP Fr. Savio Fernandes said.

Criticising the government's rationale that Goa would not be the only state going for elections on party lines, Fernandes said that the reasoning was "lame".

"The literacy level in Goa is one of the highest in the country which is enough reason that people can manage their own affairs at grassroot level without interference from political parties," Fernandes said.

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