Srinagar: Rahul Gandhi on Friday said implementation of amendments empowering Panchayats was the prerogative of Jammu and Kashmir Government, putting to rest speculation of a rift with Congress ally National Conference on this issue.
Rallying behind Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Rahul told a gathering of nearly 3,000 Panchayat members who met him at the SKICC that implementation of 73rd and 74th amendment of Panchayati Raj Act was the prerogative of the state government.
"I am no one to announce implementation of amendments like 73rd and 74th here. It’s for people of Kashmir and their elected representatives to decide. The amendments are a state prerogative," he was quoted as having said.
The statement of Rahul virtually ruling out any move by Congress to push for the implementation of the amendments may come as a dampener for some state Congress leaders who were using the issue of empowering of Panchayats to target senior coalition partner National Conference.
The 73rd amendment envisages a Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of Panchayats at village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in Panchayats at the village and intermediate level and powers thereof.
The 74th amendment deals with provisions for having local bodies, including municipal, to collect taxes and oversee other activities for development of urban areas.
Rahul said he had spoken on this issue to Omar who is working on plans for empowering the Panchayat system in the state.
The Congress party, which is for strengthening of Panchayati Raj system in the country, would work with the alliance partner for a timely implementation of the plans, he said.
Ahead of the meeting, commotion was witnessed outside the venue when some of the local Congress leaders protested at not being invited to the Panchayat meeting.