Slamming the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Indian freedom struggle leader Anna Hazare, on Monday stated that the indirect sarpanch polls were threatening democracy and entering autocracy, in a press statement. He added that the freedom fighters who laid their lives from 1857 to 1947 dreamed to expel British tyranny to set up a democracy. The government is set to table the indirect sarpanch polls bill during the budget session of the Maharashtra Assembly.
Highlighting the importance of Gram Sabha polls, Hazare invoked Mahatma Gandhi's thoughts on electoral democracy. Stating that once a person turns 18, he becomes a part of the Gram Sabha, Hazare said that it was a natural and organic body. Moreover, he reminded that the Gram Sabha voters who elect the Legislative Assembly MLAs and Lok Sabha MPs.
He added that while the above-mentioned legislative assemblies changed every five years, the Gram Sabha was permanent. Elaborating on the various Gram Sabhas, he said each voter of the Gram Sabha change the MLAs and the members of the district, thus changing the village Gram Panchayat. He concluded that as the Garm Sabha was supreme, the sarpanch must be elected by the voters and not the political party representatives, as proposed in the bill.
The Maharashtra government will table a bill in the Budget session of the Assembly to reverse an earlier decision under which people directly elected the village sarpanch (headman). The rule for direct election of sarpanch was brought in by the previous BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government amending respective clauses of Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act of 1958 to facilitate the election of a sarpanch (gram panchayat heads) directly from among the people of the village. But the Uddhav Thackeray-led government seeks its reversal which has been stalled by Governor BS Koshyari, who refused to sign the promulgation of an ordinance on this.