New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
and NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Sunday emphasised the need to
strengthen Gram Sabhas for effective participation of people
Addressing a function on National Panchayat Diwas here,
Singh said the government was considering increasing the
capacity of Panchayats so that they can discharge their
Noting that timely elections to Panchayats were necessary
for their effective functioning, the Prime Minister said the
70 to 80 percent turnout in the Panchayat elections in Jammu
and Kashmir and Jharkhand a few days back "reflects that
people now want to decide their future themselves".
The Prime Minister said that though the idea of
self-governance has got legal acceptance, there is still a
"long way to go for bringing decentralisation".
He said the Panchayati Raj had a special place in late
Rajiv Gandhi`s vision of a modern India and the 73rd
Constitutional amendment in 1993 on Panchayati Raj led
to decentralisation of political powers, giving many powers
to the Panchayats.
There is greater transparency in implementation of
government schemes at present due to social audit, he added.
Gandhi said the Gram Sabhas should have power for social
audit of all schemes and it has a special role in the
monitoring of MNREGS.
She said there was need to consider many options to
strengthen the Panchayati Raj system. The meetings of Gram
Sabhas should be held regularly and women and deprived
sections must participate in them to place their views.
Noting that the UPA government has taken many steps for
the social and economic development of the common man, she
said full benefits of these programmes will reach people only
when the Panchayati Raj institutions in the country are
The UPA chairperson said the main purpose of Panchayati
Raj is self-governance, which is the last stage of democracy
to which "we all are committed."
Gandhi and Singh also distributed the Annual PEAIS awards
to the best performing states under the Panchayat Empowerment
and Accountability Incentive Scheme.
Maharashtra bagged the maximum number of awards.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda personally
received the award for his state.
Minister of Panchayati Raj Vilasrao Deshmukh said the
Gram Sabhas need to be strengthened on the lines of Lok Sabha
and the Vidhan Sabha.