'Can Get 234 Seats': Kamal Haasan's Pitch For Panchayat Route To Power

Gram sabhas were not seriously pursued due to selfish politics, said Kamal Haasan at a mock gram sabha organised at his party office

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'Can Get 234 Seats': Kamal Haasan's Pitch For Panchayat Route To Power

Gram sabha is a great tool to reduce corruption, said Kamal Haasan


Chennai:  Superstar Kamal Haasan who launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiyam earlier this year today displayed his acting skills off the silver screen. At a mock gram sabha organised at his party's office in Chennai, the 63-year-old played the role of a villager to drive home the importance of the village body that he said can empower people and help tackle corruption.

At the event held to mark 25 years of constitutional status to panchayats and municipalities, over 50 people from villages across Tamil Nadu took part. Also present were members from Mr Haasan's party.

To give the urban setting a rural feel, all participants sat on the floor. C Sumathi, an elected woman president from Adikathur panchayat, was assigned the role of sarpanch. At the very beginning, the actor made it clear that "this publicity is for gram sabhas, not for my party".

Mr Haasan, who has repeatedly targeted the AIADMK government in the state over the issue of corruption, fired another salvo.

"Gram sabhas were not seriously pursued due to selfish politics. Each gram sabha gets between Rs 1 crore and Rs 5 crore, based on a village's population. If Tamil Nadu has 12,000-plus villages, imagine the funds that are available. Gram sabhas are held to check if these funds are well utilized," said Mr Haasan.

According to the Panchayati Raj system, a gram sabha has all members of a village who are over 18 and are registered voters. Gram sabha reviews the annual budget and accounts of the gram panchayat and approves development schemes.

Rules mandate at least four meetings of a gram sabha every year. "This does not happen. We have to ensure it is changed. Gram sabha is a great tool to reduce corruption," Mr Hassan told the gathering.

The role play began with the presentation of 'village accounts' that was 'scrutinised'. A debate over shifting a liquor shop ended in a 'resolution' being passed to that effect.

Recently in his column in a Tamil magazine, Mr Haasan said while he wasn't in favour of prohibition, there was no need for 'so many liquor outlets in the state'.

With a tacit attack on Sterlite factory facing public wrath in Tuticorin, the other resolution passed at the mock gram sabha was to disallow a factory from coming up without the village's permission.

Earlier this month, the actor had supported protesters demanding the closure of the copper making unit in Tuticorin.

Mr Haasan, who has already said his party would contest the next assembly elections due in 2021, today once again reiterated his village-centric approach.

By invoking Article 243 (of the Constitution that lists the powers of gram sabha), we can secure 234 (the number of assembly seats in Tamil Nadu), he said.


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