Anna Hazare for law to empower gram sabhas; threatens fresh stir

Anna Hazare for law to empower gram sabhas; threatens fresh stir

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New Delhi Decrying the failure of Rajya Sabha to pass the Lokpal bill, Gandhian activist Anna Hazare made a curious suggestion on Thursday to bring a law to empower gram sabhas that will be above Parliament.

In a video address to Team Anna's seminar 'Rebuilding the Republic', he said people will have to be ready for a big agitation like the one for Jan Lokpal Bill if the government does not bring a law for empowering village sabhas.

"Lok Sabha thinks it is above everyone. This is wrong. People have made you. So they are above you... it is the sacred temple of democracy. In such a sacred place, what has happened in Rajya Sabha in the last day (of the Winter Session) on Lokpal Bill?

"550 people were giving their own suggestions. Nobody has asked people. So we need another law. Assemblies and Lok Sabha think that they are above gram sabhas. But gram sabhas are above you. We need a new law which gives such a power to gram sabhas," he said in his 30-minute address.

He said what happened in Rajya Sabha on the last day of Winter Session was wrong. "The elected members were giving their views on their own. This is not right democracy. Why this happened? Because the masters were sleeping.

"The Lok Sabha thinks it is above gram sabha. 550 people think they are bigger than everybody else. his thinking is wrong," he said.

Mr Hazare also said that there should be provisions in the new law that a panchayat can be dismissed if it spends money without consulting the gram sabha and getting their consent.

Arguing for strong gram sabhas, the activist cited the acquisition process for Special Economic Zones saying the owners in the villages and the village sabhas do not know when the government acquires their land straightaway without their permission.

"We the masters were sleeping when the servants were looting our treasuries. Now we have awakened. If the government does not bring a law, we will have to organise an agitation similar to the August 16 (Ramlila Maidan) agitation for a strong Lokpal Bill," he said.

Story First Published: January 26, 2012 23:44 IST

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