Rahul Gandhi reaches out to panchayat members in J&K, sarpanch disrupts speech

RahulRahul Gandhi said that Jammu and Kashmir can be changed only if more power is given to the members of panchayat.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday reached out to panchayat members in Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that the UPA government was serious about empowering the local bodies as it understood the vitality of the governing body at the grassroots.

Batting for the empowerment of the local self government body, the Gandhi scion said that Jammu and Kashmir can be changed only if more power is given to the members of panchayat. He also stressed on the need to provide training and employment to the youth.

"If we want to change Jammu and Kashmir, we need to give power to panchayats and employment to youth...There is a need to empower panchayats as the decisions should be taken at the grassroots," said Rahul.

Rahul further said that the work that a panchayat member can do cannot be done by ministers, MLAs and MPs.

Rahul's address also witnessed some drama when a sarpanch disrupted his speech saying that though the Centre government did help them, there was no support from the Omar Abdullah government in the state.

"We have been receiving such assurances for the last three years," said one of the sarpanchs asking Rahul about how long will it take him to fulfill his promise. The agitating sarpanch also lamented that they were being "befooled on the basis of such lucrative promises."

Pacifying him, Rahul Gandhi assured that the issues were being looked after and that he had discussed the issue with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as well. He, however, added, "Panchayat cannot be empowered in a day, but I assure will work and make that happen."

He said that legislator's role was confined only to enacting laws and sarpanchs only had a role in development works at local level. "Even various Central schemes like MNREGA and food security cannot be made successful without empowering the panchayats," Rahul said.

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