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LS passes J&K Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024

PM Modi dominates discourse in J&K by unleashing justice-oriented development: Rai
12:00 AM Feb 07, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
ls passes j k local bodies laws  amendment  bill  2024
New Delhi, Feb 06 (ANI): BJP MP Nityanand Rai speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Interim Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo/Sansad TV)
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Jammu, Feb 6: Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai Tuesday stated that a wind of change was blowing in J&K post Article 370 due to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s justice-oriented development policies, benefitting all sections of the society there.

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“That’s why one can hear the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his development policies dominated the public discourse in J&K, notwithstanding the political detractors’ fierce and persisting criticism,” he said, while replying to a brief debate in the Lok Sabha over “J&K Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024”, which was later passed by the Lower House.

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Rai had introduced the Bill on February 5 and replied to debate over it today on behalf of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Responding to the opposition members’ criticism of Modi government’s policies in J&K, delay in elections etc., while participating in debate over the Bill, the Union Minister of State for Home accused them of resorting to “diversionary tactics” in the garb of supporting the Bill by faking as “well-wishers” of OBCs, who were actually deprived of justice for 75 years.

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“J&K is getting justice in the form of this Bill. Injustice is being undone to deprived sections, including OBCs. You are asking us to leave J&K to its fate. The Modi government only trusts the people of J&K. We have faith in J&K people but we will not leave them or their fate to the mercy of terrorists. You pushed J&K to the vortex of terrorism. This unfolded a plethora of problems for J&K people. The J&K crisis ruined it and it is evident to all. Everyone knows what cost J&K has to pay for it,” Rai said, referring to the statement of an opposition MP.

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Detailing about “wind of change” in J&K, he said that 4.45 lakh Amarnath pilgrims paid obeisance there; festivals were being celebrated with fervour and festivity at prominent religious places of Kashmiri Pandits.

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“Ravaged temples are being re-built. Historic Sharda temple witnessed Deepawali festival after decades; Muharram processions were taken out at Lal Chowk in Srinagar and cessation of practice of ‘Darbar Move’ has saved Rs 400 Cr. J&K is witnessing footfall of 2 Crore tourists. Boom in tourism has helped poor, deprived, OBCs, SCs and STs as they are getting employment and means of livelihood,” he said.

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Rai stated that 15 members participated in the debate.

“Mostly hailed and supported the Bill. One member said that the Bill was technically correct yet principally it was not. To him, my assertion is that the principal and avowed objective of this Bill is the welfare of OBCs as per the policy of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. It is principled on PM Modi’s policy of justice-oriented development and welfare of all sections. This Bill has been brought to provide justice to OBCs, who had no reservation in Panchayats and ULBs, contrary to the statements of few members,” the Union Minister of State for Home said.

Seeking unanimous support of members to the passage of Bill, Rai said that the Bill would pave the way for reservation for OBCs in Panchayats and ULBs.

“All three amendments brought in the Bill are aimed at the welfare of OBCs. Reservation for OBCs in Bill encompasses 33 percent reservation for women as well,” he said.

With regard to opposition members’ demands for a timeline to hold assembly elections in J&K and restoration of statehood, Rai asserted that he made no reference to them.

Earlier participating in the debate, Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference demanded assembly elections in J&K at the earliest. He stated that even before the Supreme Court’s directive (September 30 deadline), the government should have taken a call on the assembly polls.

Similar demands with reference to the Supreme Court’s decision were made by TMC’s Saugata Roy and NCP’s Supriya Sule. The latter even demanded a timeline for assembly elections and statehood to J&K.

Referring to a recent statement of the Prime Minister, Masoodi said that the elections should be conducted before any big decisions.

NC MP also stated that the amendments were being made in the existing (J&K) bills which clearly demonstrated that the democracy was already there at the grassroot level and reservation provisions were also there.

BJP MP Jugal Kishore Sharma lauded the Bill, which he said was “historic” and thanked the Prime Minister for undoing injustice to the OBCs meted out to them by NC, Congress and PDP.

Ramesh Bidhuri of BJP, Shiv Sena’s Pratap Jadhav, JD (U)’s Kaushalendra Kumar and YSRCP’s Chinta Anuradha also supported the bill as the latter described it as a progressive legislation.

Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill stated that the Bill was good yet there should be provision for representation to Sikhs also in ULBs in J&K.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of Congress also participated in the debate besides his other party colleagues, DMK, RSP and independent members.

Besides reservation to OBCs, the Bill also proposes to vest the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of all elections to the Municipalities and Municipal Corporations in a “State Election Commission” consisting of a “State Election Commissioner” instead of the Chief Electoral Officer, which was existing practice in J&K.

It also proposes to bring parity in provisions related to the removal and conditions of service of the State Election Commission (SEC) in J&K Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 with the practice prevalent in other States/UTs of the country.

The provisions pertaining to State Election Commissioner in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 were at variance with the provisions of the Constitution.

The Bill also proposes amendment to the method for disqualification from membership of Halqa Panchayat, suspension or removal of Sarpanchs, Naib Sarpanchs and Panchs.

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