Panchayat polls: In the race for quick bucks

Despite the hype surrounding the three-tier panchayat polls with development being the buzz word in the district, the ground realities paint a sorry picture of the elected representatives. Many of them have been tainted with cases ranging from financial to criminal.

Former Sarpanch of Tabla gram panchayat, Sanyasini Badhai was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) and a fine of Rs 2,000. She had demanded a bribe of Rs 3,000 from a contractor on January 28, 2003 against construction of boundary wall of Tabla School. Her son Anjan was also sentenced to six months RI as the graft amount was found from him.

On October 20 last year, Jujumura Police in the district arrested Sarpanch of Meghpal gram panchayat Rajib Jhankar besides one Satyanarayan Bhoi of Kisinda for demanding ` 1 lakh from a village-level worker of Meghpal, Rabi Kanta.

The accused, identifying themselves as members of the banned Left ultra outfit, threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to cough up the money. The two have been making calls demanding money for long but when Kanta did not oblige they hiked the demand to Rs 2 lakh forcing Kanta to report the matter to the police in September. Investigating the matter, the police traced the calls to the duo and arrested them.

Similarly, a joint team of the Excise, Police and Forest arrested Sarpanch of Panimora gram panchayat Pramod Kumar Sahu for cultivating hemp in the backyard of his house at Panimora village under Kisinda police limits, on November 5 last year. A former Sarpanch of Ghusramal gram panchayat Debarchan Mirdha (32) was also arrested by Rairakhol Police for his involvement in hemp trading on November 7. The police also seized wooden planks worth lakhs of rupees from his house.

The cases against Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) representatives have left the rural folk nonplussed. They are demanding stringent action against all those involved in illegal activities. And with no dearth of funds for development of rural pockets, the race for prestigious seats is hotting up with candidates going all out to lure voters.

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