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BJP to fight ensuing panchayat polls on development issue
 GUWAHATI, Nov 8 - The ruling BJP will contest the forthcoming panchayat polls on the agenda of development, further strengthening of the panchayati raj system and for more devolution and decentralisation of power, even as the saffron party claimed that it is confident of winning at least 70 per cent of seats in the elections.

“This time the BJP will be the number one party in the panchayat elections. We will win in minimum 70 per cent of the panchayats. And with a little bit of extra effort, we can emerge victorious in 80 per cent of the seats,” State BJP general secretary Dilip Saikia told The Assam Tribune.

He said the process for selection of candidates for the polls is at an advanced stage and the lists for various tiers of panchayats are expected to be finalised by November 10.

BJP is also likely to come out with its election manifesto for the panchayat polls by November 15.

“Our primary agenda will be development. We will also go to the masses with the message of ‘corruption free panchayats’. We will strengthen the panchayati raj system in Assam and ensure decentralisation of power in the true sense of the term,” said the senior BJP leader.

While admitting that BJP has historically never performed very well during panchayat polls in Assam, Saikia claimed that the situation now is very different from earlier times.

He said the performance of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and of the BJP-led State government headed by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal are very good, especially in sectors like agriculture and rural development, and added that voters of rural Assam will repose their faith in the saffron party.

Asked about charges made by parties like the Congress and the AIUDF that the Central government funding for panchayat and rural development schemes have been slashed during the past two years, Saikia said, “Such allegations are totally baseless. The truth is that the Central government led by Prime Minister Modi has introduced a number of new schemes for further strengthening the panchayati raj system. Allotment of houses to the beneficiaries in Assam under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) has almost doubled during our government’s tenure as compared to what was allotted by the previous Congress regime under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY),” said Saikia.

“Similarly, our government has hiked the remuneration of anganwadi workers and ASHA staff members. Similar measures have been taken in other areas also. All this shows that our governments, both at the Centre and in the State, have done much more for the rural sector and the rural population as compared to the previous regimes,” he added.

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