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‘No need for political parties at grassroots level’

‘No need for political parties at grassroots level’

Chandigarh, August 27, 2011

There is no need to fight elections at grassroots level with support of political parties and citizens need to turnout in large number to elect their local leaders. This was the conclusion reached at a meeting of Lala Lajpat Rai Thinkers’ Forum on the topic “How to strengthen grassroots democracy’ held here today under the aegis of the Servants of People’s Society.

Nominated councillor Pallav Mukherjee kicked off the deliberation by questioning the justification fighting municipal or panchayat elections on party symbols. “We have been conditioned with this concept that elections need to be fought between political parties. At grassroots level, the local issues should get the attention and we need to choose the candidates based on their credentials rather than their backing by political parties,” he stressed adding that we need to weed out politics from governance.

“Many a times, parties choose the candidates based on their respective money and muscle power which is why we get such leaders who need to compensate for the money spent during election campaign. Also, these leaders toe the line of their respective parties on a social issue instead of using their own judgment for public welfare,” Mukherjee added.

P C Sanghi, the chairman of Federation of Sector Welfare Associations Chandigarh (FOSWAC), said the concept of local self-governance is a myth. “In Chandigarh, the elected representatives in local bodies don’t have power to get a work done. There is so much bureaucratic interference that the elected councillors and members of panchayats have to get support from a political party to have a greater say,” he pointed out.

Supporting the idea, Balwinder Singh, the sarpanch of Khuda Jassu village, gave examples of development works being done in his constituency. “Though I am a sarpanch, I don’t have much say when it comes to getting a work done in my area. No official in the UT Administration listens to panchayat members. This is the reason why we have to seek support from one or the other political party,” he said.

Ajay Jagga, the president of Janata Party, Chandigarh unit, stressed on electoral reforms and need for a higher voter turnout so that candidates can be chosen based on their credentials instead of political affiliations. “Awareness among voters, both in rural and urban areas, is the solution to the deep malice which runs in our democratic system,” he added.

The gathering, comprising members of various residents’ welfare associations and village panchayats in Chandigarh, also deliberated on the issues “Right to Recall”, “Rule 49-0” and potential of the Right to Information Act to deal with corruption and poor governance.
ends


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