Trinamool afraid to hold panchayat polls: Jairam Ramesh

Siliguri, April 7 (IANS) West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress government has no intention of holding the panchayat polls as it fears its loss of popularity would be exposed, union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Sunday.

Without elected bodies, the rural employment guarantee scheme cannot be run, he added.

“We are seeing the drama on holding the panchayat body polls. The only reason is the Trinamool is afraid,” Ramesh said.

“It does not want the panchayat and municipal polls as it would become clear how much Trinamool has gone down in the eyes of the people, how much it has lost in terms of popularity,” Ramesh said at a Congress programme here.

The minister said in 2013-14, the state can expect to spend Rs.5,000 crore to Rs.6,000 crore on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which provides 100 days’ wage employment to every household, whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

“But one thing is clear. In the absence of elected panchayat bodies, the MGNREGS cannot be run,” he said.

A question mark hangs over holding the panchayat polls in the state with the showdown between the state government and the state election commission on the scheduling of the dates and deployment of central paramilitary forces reaching the court.

On March 22, the government announced two-phase polls to be held April 26 and April 30 under the supervision of the state police personnel.

This ran counter to the Election Commission’s suggestion of a three-stage election, with deployment of central paramilitary troopers.

The state Election Commission has moved the Calcutta High Court April 1 seeking rejection of the poll dates notified by the government.

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