BJP Leaders Meet Agitating Sarpanches In Bhubaneswar, To Raise Their Demands In Odisha Assembly

Bhubaneswar: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday strongly supported the agitating sarpanches and panchayat samiti members who are staging a protest in Bhubaneswar to press for several demands, including more fund and power.

A delegation led by BJP chief whip in Odisha Assembly Mohan Majhi and former state party president Samir Mohanty met the sarpanches at their protest site in Lower PMG in the state capital.

The BJP delegation held discussion with the agitating sarpanches and assured them that the saffron party will strongly support them in highlighting their demands.

The saffron party leaders promised them to raise the issue in the state Assembly and take up the matter with the state government to ensure that the demands are met at the earliest, a BJP statement said.

Alleging that government officials are hijacking the powers of elected panchayat representatives, the BJP leaders claimed that the state government is not giving importance to the gram sabhas and palli sabhas.

They maintained that the allowances and honorarium of sarpanches and panchayat samiti members must be increased forthwith.

Elected people’s representatives should be allowed to play a direct role in the utilisation of funds provided to panchayats by the Centre and the state government, BJP said.

Similarly, adequate funds should be provided to enable the sarpanches and samiti members to undertake development activities in panchayats.

It may be noted here that a large number of sarpanches and samiti members from across the state have been protesting in Bhubaneswar to press for their 15-point charter of demands, including more fund and power.

Their demands include grant of full power to the sarpanches as per the provision in the three-tier Pachayati Raj system, hike in exigency funds and increase in the amount of pension from Rs 2,350 to Rs 30,000.

Earlier, the sarpanches had submitted a memorandum in this regard to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through the district Collectors around two months ago.

However, they are staging protest at different block headquarters and the state capital as their demands are yet to be met.

The agitators, united under the banner of Sarpanch Mahasangh, alleged that despite working for people in their community round-the-clock without any leave, they are being paid a meagre Rs 2,300.

The sarpanches also alleged that most of the government projects are being implemented at the grassroots by block level officials without their knowledge and their power and rights are being curtailed.

The sarpanches body has also threatened to tender mass resignation and launch an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.

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