Of Gram Sabhas and the Lok Sabha
Struggling to stay relevant amid signs of growing popular indifference, Team Anna chose Republic Day to advocate radical ideas like putting gram sabhas above the Lok Sabha and establishing a referendum commission along the lines of Election Commission. In a video message, activist Anna Hazare also praised the Lokayukta bill of Uttarakhand, in what may be seen as a surrogate campaign for the BJP in the state. He said the legislation drafted by the BJP government should be emulated by all states, something that endorses BJP’s claim to be sincere about fighting corruption under its chief ministerial candidate B C Khanduri. Hazare demanded that a law be brought to give financial and decision-making powers to gram sabhas and threatened to go on a Ramlila Maidan style agitation for it. He also chose to raise the contentious issue of land acquisition, demanding that no acquisition take place without gram sabha approval. "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 at a seminar on ‘Rebuilding the Republic’. Although Hazare’s romance for gram sabha is old, his pitch that the real power should be vested in lakhs of these bodies instead of Lok Sabha has been provoked by the resistance to his agenda in Parliament. The activist even acknowledged as much, criticizing the failure of Rajya Sabha to clear the Lokpal bill.