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Gram sabhas above assemblies, parliament, says Hazare

Stating that gram sabhas (village councils) were above state assemblies and parliament, activist Anna Hazare Thursday called for legislation to empower local bodies and said people should be prepared for a "second freedom struggle" if the government does not bring such a bill.

In his video message "Rebuilding Rebuplic" posted on YouTube by his team, Hazare said that gram sabhas were the highest structures in the country as they derived their strength directly from the people.

"Gram sabha is the highest system in the country. It is above Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. Every voter is the master of the country, this they (the government) should understand. You (the people) have to come forward for a second freedom struggle," Hazare said.

Hazare said what happened in Rajya Sabha on the last day of winter session during the discussion on Lokpal bill was not proper.

"The elected members were giving their views on their own. This is not a right democracy. Servants (of people) treat themselves as masters, are making laws according to their wishes," Hazare said.

He said that when the Lokpal bill came to parliament, the MPs were making amendments according to their own wishes. "The 500-550 MPs treat themselves to be the highest authority. This is wrong. We have to think about it," he said and added that democracy in the country was yet to fully become a people's democracy.

In his nearly 30-minute address, Hazare said elected representatives and bureaucracy had failed in their duty over the last six decades to remove social and economic inquities and the differences among people on grounds of caste and religion.

"Hence, till the time there is decentralisation, there will not be democracy. Keeping power with central government, with the state governments and running the system from there is not democracy. The power should come in the hands of voter after decentralisation. A bill should come that the money spent of people's treasury should be spent with their consent."

Hazare said people had accepted representative democracy in the country based on the rule of law.

"They (elected representatives) were sent as servants of people for using the treasury properly. The president appoints IPS (Indian Police Service), IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers as servants of people. The people who became masters in 1950, they have been turned into servants and those appointed servants have turned into masters. Those assigned the role of protecting treasury had turned looters," he said.

"We were sleeping for the past 65 years and they have looted our treasury. Servants have looted treasury of the master. But now we are awake. If a law like this is not brought, there would be need of an agitation like the one launched Aug 16 (last year)," he said, adding that message should spread across the villages that gram sabha is the highest system in the country and should be given full powers.

Hazare said gram sabhas did not know at present how much money comes and how much is spent. "The money should come directly to gram panchayats."

Hazare also repeated his suggestions of right to recall and right to reject of elected representatives.

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