Jammu DDC members boycott meet over protocol, call it ‘murder of democracy’

In the 14-member DDC, the BJP has 11 members, followed by two independents and one from National Conference.

Newly elected members of the District Development Council (DDC) in Jammu have locked horns with the district administration over a protocol issue.

Trouble erupted on Tuesday when the DDC members, including chairperson Bharat Bushan and vice-chairperson Suraj Singh, boycotted a meeting convened to vet proposals for the construction of roads under the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna-III in Jammu district, complaining that it was a “violation of protocol and an insult to newly created democratic institution” as the letter sent to them calling the meeting was written by an officer in the Deputy Commissioner’s office. They said the meeting should have been convened by the DDC chairperson and not an officer from the administration.

In the 14-member DDC, the BJP has 11 members, followed by two independents and one from National Conference.

DDC chairperson and senior BJP leader Bharat Bushan has written a letter to Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, the Department of Personnel & Training and UT Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, describing the incident as “murder of democracy”.

Independent member Taranjit Singh justified the boycott, saying the administration must understand that DDC members were not rubber stamp who will vet whatever it wants. The administration should circulate the agenda of a meeting well in advance and the elected members must be given due respect, he added.

Chairperson Bushan said he received a call from Chief Planning Officer in the Deputy Commissioner’s office, asking whether he was attending the meeting being held to discuss proposals regarding construction of the roads. “When I expressed ignorance about the meeting, he told me that a section officer had called me some days ago, but I could not be contacted as I was preoccupied in a meeting,’’ Bushan said. “I told him that being DDC chairperson it was I who should call the meeting and not the Deputy Commissioner.”

Sources said Deputy Commissioner Sushma Chauhan also called Bushan to say that the letter was written following directions from the Commissioner Secretary, Rural Development Department, to organise meetings of DDCs to discuss proposals for various roads under PMGSY-III.

It was never the intention of the administration to hurt the sentiments of the elected DDC members, including chairperson, Chauhan said. They letter inviting them to participate in the meeting was written since the DDCs were yet to have a full-fledged structure and the Commissioner-Secretary wanted to involve the newly elected members in the decision-making process, she added.

Incidentally, the newly elected DDC members, including the chairperson and vice-chairperson, were administered oath of office by Deputy Commissioner Chauhan on December 28 and February 13.

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