The direct funds transfer (DFT) to panchayats are getting delayed due to TRS government hurdle-making to Modi government’s scheme. Chief Minister KCR holds the DTF to Gram panchayats for a reason of administrative and financial streams disruption. This is the strategy to capture the scheme and named as state scheme.

Panchayat’ is made up of two words: ‘Panch (five)’ and ‘Ayat  (assembly)’. Panchayat Raj refers to local governance that involves five or more elders resolving disputes among individuals and solving problems faced by villages.

The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act that was passed in 1992 and came into effect on 24 April 1993 plugged many systemic, inherent weaknesses in the administration at the grassroots level and provided an empowered Panchayat Raj system. The Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution of India also lay down in Article 40 that the government shall facilitate the establishment and smooth functioning of gram panchayats.

Alas! Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrashekar Rao seems to be unhappy with this arrangement, wherein the Act requires both the Union and state governments to take necessary steps for the formalisation of gram panchayats and help them operate as units of self-governance.

Surfacing from a two-week hiatus at his farmhouse, KCR the other day expressed his unhappiness over the Union government releasing funds directly to rural local bodies (RLBs) “bypassing the state governments” for implementing certain central programmes.

He felt that the Centre’s actions indicated that it does not trust the states. KCR was referring to the Central programmes like Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and others, under which the Union government releases funds directly to RLBs.

He termed this as a ‘petty practice’ and stated that all the Prime Ministers since Rajiv Gandhi to date followed this ‘petty practice’. One wonders what is so petty about directly transferring funds to RLBs. Why does our Chief Minister want to play a role in this smooth system, which aims at  eliminating the triple dangers of delays, diversions, and corruption? Why is only Telangana Chief Minister having an issue with the established system, when it is implemented throughout the country, based on uniform norms under the Act? What did he do to address what he claims to be an anomaly when he was a member of the Union cabinet? Why does he not apply his favourite argument that the state governments understand their states’ needs better than the Centre, to local bodies too?
Aren’t local bodies in a better position to understand local needs than CMs sitting in state capitals? KCR seems to have missed a lot of points – not silly, but valid and substantial – in his habitual hurry to malign the Central government.

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The saving grace is that he has not accused the Union government of ‘discriminating against Telangana’ – his pet theme to play the sentiment card. He is worried about the direct transfer of funds by the Union  government to the RLBs, ignoring the real issue of releasing money he owes to gram panchayats.

Recently, the Sarpanch of Munugodu major grama panchayat in Nalgonda District, Miriyala Venkanna, brought to the fore the pathetic financial status of local bodies in Telangana. Venkanna went around the village with a begging bowl asking for donations (biksha) claiming that the Telangana State government had stopped releasing funds for bills and employee salaries.

He alleged that the gram panchayat was not in a position to pay even power bills and had not paid salaries to its employees for the past four months. People’s representatives like Venkanna are unanimous in  demanding the Telangana State government to release funds to gram panchayats without further delay.

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A quick glance at recent news reports on the plight of sarpaches in Telangana presents a sorry state of affairs. “Chief Minister K  Chandrasekhar Rao assured that he would issue grants of Rs 15 lakh for unanimous local bodies’elections, but even that was not given. Though officials say we are getting funds, the money is not being credited to our account.

“I have not got even my honorarium for six months; so, I have started working as a security guard in a private apartment,” the sarpanch of Dichpally mandal in Nizamabad district told #KhabarLive. Based on population, his village was supposed to get Rs 37,000 per month.

Telangana Sarpanches Association president Venkatesh Yadav, who is sarpanch of Gangavelli in Shadnagar, Rangareddy district, went on record that many sarpanches had fallen into debt trap after spending money from their pocket for village development.

All the 12,000 plus gram panchayats together are supposed to get Rs 350 crore every month, but the government is not even giving us Rs 100 crore. How will this amount be sufficient for all the gram panchayats?” is the right question posed by Venkatesh Yadav. Unfortunately, KCR has no answer to such ‘petty’ questions.

It is obvious that sarpanches belonging to opposition parties are subjected to even more hardships and humiliation by the ruling party to make them switch parties. Forget “Bangaru Telangana“, even Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of “Gram swaraj” will remain just that – a dream, as long as CMs like KCR treat panchayats and their elected representatives with such disdain.

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It was amusing to listen to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao asking if the Central government did not have faith in the state government, unmindful of the fact that this policy was the same across all states – BJP and non-BJP ruled.

The recent step taken by the Union government to open separate bank accounts for all panchayats into which the funds sent directly by the Union government would be deposited seems to have triggered the CM’s frustration. This step is aimed at bringing in transparency and making sure that Central government funds are used only for the specific programmes for which they are intended.

Obviously, this eliminates the chance for “stickering” – giving a new name to a central programme and claiming it as a state programme, all the while executing it with the Center’s funds – a technique that is very popular in Telugu states.

It also makes it difficult for states to divert funds, even temporarily, for their own needs.For the Chief Minister of a state whose financial position is so tenuous that it cannot pay its employees in time, losing this avenue can be very irritating.

All said and done, we often come across ‘pathological liars’ and ‘chronically unhappy’ people besides ‘awful egotists’ in our lives. Bearing with a person possessed of even one of these qualities (lies, unhappiness and ego) is very difficult.

Unfortunately, the people of Telangana are suffering untold miseries caused by not one, but two ‘powerful’ political characters with these three deadly qualities combined. We need to get rid of these ‘silly’ politicians in the next elections to achieve ‘Gram Swaraj’ as well as “Bangaru  Telangana”. #KhabarLive #hydnews

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