Extending support to agitating District Development Council (DDC) members, Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Tuesday urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to ensure they have adequate powers to mobilise government departments and address public grievances.
Cutting across party lines, newly elected DDC members boycotted a two-day training-cum-workshop here during the day and staged a protest to press for better status and a monthly honorarium.
The protest came a day after the Jammu and Kashmir administration amended its warrant of precedence, placing DDC chairpersons at par with administrative secretaries, vice-chairpersons with vice-chancellors of universities, and DDC members with district magistrates.
“The anger and resentment shown by the DDC members are genuine. They were elected by the people, and if they do not get adequate powers and the befitting protocol, they will not get the respect and will not be heard during their visit to the civil secretariat, mini secretariat, deputy commissioners office,” Raina said.
He added that the order of precedence issued by the administration is not only an insult to the elected members but also to the people in general.
“The Lt governor has always favoured strengthening the democratic institutions and won acclaims by holding the maiden DDC elections in the Union territory, but it is the bureaucracy which has played the spoilsport and conspired (against the DDC members),” Raina said.
He urged the Lt Governor to consider the demands of the DDC members with an open heart.
“DDC chairpersons should at least be given the status of minister of state, vice-chairpersons deputy ministers and the members should be equivalent to commissioner secretaries. Block Development Council (BDC) chairpersons should also be kept above district development commissioners so that these elected grassroots level representatives can perform their duties to the satisfaction of the people by mobilising government departments and address the grievances of the public by holding village-level meetings,” the BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Peoples Conference president and former minister Sajad Lone also expressed disappointment over the lowering of status of the DDC chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and members, and blamed the bureaucrats.
“DDC protocol powers disappointment – humiliation. Problem is the new stakeholder created by the union Govt post August 5- BUREAUCRAT Ever powerful. He/she will never facilitate democracy. will c anybody elected by people as a threat. This is simple analysis. And no rocket science,” Lone wrote on Twitter.