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Gram sabhas above Parl; need to empower them: Hazare

Last updated on: January 26, 2012 19:31 IST

Gram sabhas above Parliament; need to empower them: Hazare

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Decrying the failure of Rajya Sabha to pass the Lokpal bill, Anna Hazare on Thursday made a curious suggestion 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. This thinking is wrong," he said.

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Image: We need a new law which empowers the gram sabhas, Anna Hazare said on Thursday
Photographs: Reuters

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'We the masters were sleeping when the servants were looting our treasuries'

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He said 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, Hazare 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.

Claiming that today's democracy is not for the people, by the people, and of the people but that of officialdom, Hazare said corruption increased because of exclusion of people from the law making process.

"Those who are to safeguard the treasuries are the ones who are looting it. The responsibility lies with people as they fell asleep after sending elected representatives to Parliament and assemblies.

"We sent them as our servants but they are behaving like our masters...The laws being made are weak because you are not consulting the masters," he said.

Hazare said there is no difference between the British rule and the present system if the government does not take the opinion of people while making laws.

He made a fresh demand for Right to Recall and Right to Reject laws.


Image: A supporter of Anna Hazare shouts slogans during the veteran social activist's fast in Mumbai
Photographs: Reuters

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'Ruling party high command becoming virtual kings'

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Taking on from what Hazare said, his close aide Arvind Kejriwal said, "If a bill is passed in Parliament, our representatives should distribute them to people and ask their opinion."

He said they were being asked to have faith in Parliament but "how do we do that".

"When we close eyes to visuals of Parliament, we see the faces of (more than) 163 other criminals sitting there. I don't remember there was a movement such big where people came to streets in such numbers for a law. Then Lalu Prasad says no MP wants Lokpal. How do we believe that they represent us?"

"Parliament has become hostage to ruling party rather than ruling party being accountable to Parliament. This situation of ruling party high command becoming virtual kings is dangerous," he said.

On the Lokpal Bill, he said the law that went to Parliament was "useless".

"97 amendments were introduced by opposition. Their speeches were different from the amendments they moved. The ruling party had the majority and they did what they wanted. Was it just a formality? Was it just a show? The people whom we sent turn to their high command for orders," he added.

Another Team Anna member Shanti Bhushan said the reason for the establishment of Republic was to give power to people for lawmaking.

"But something has gone wrong. To bridge the gap, a people's movement is needed and its bugle has been sounded. There will be a peaceful movement that will stretch to the nook and corner of the country," he said.


Image: Parliament has become hostage to ruling party rather than ruling party being accountable to Parliament, Anna Hazare's close aide Arvind Kejriwal said.

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