New Delhi, Apr 22 : Panchayati Raj Minister Manishankar Aiyer on Tuesday said that strengthening the Panchayati Raj system in the country is the Central Government's top priority.
He was speaking after inaugurating a three-day National Convention of Presidents of Districts and Block Panchayats here today.
Aiyer further said that the Government has already taken several steps in this regard, including facilitating free and fair Panchayat polls, reservation for women in these institutions and setting up a State Finance Commission to ensure adequate flow of funds to panchayats.
He said the Secretary of the Panchayati Raj Ministry would work on suggestions made at the convention to improve the Panchayati Raj system.
Aiyer said the Centre did not have a direct role in Panchayati Raj functioning but, is always ready to extend help to strengthen the system and to promote participatory governance at the grassroots level.
Aiyer said this would enhance better Centre-State relations.
There are thirty-two lakh elected Panchayati representatives at different levels, of which over twelve lakh were women, the highest number in the world.
The convention is being organised to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitutions, on which the Panchayati Raj system was founded.
About 7000 elected Panchayati representatives are participating in the convention, besides Panchayati Raj Ministers of several states.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and United People's Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi will address the concluding session of the convention on Thursday. (ANI)
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