Chennai: South Indian movies superstar and President of Makkal Needhi Maiam, Kamal Haasan has called upon the DMK government in Tamil Nadu to hold gram sabha meetings on Independence Day. He slammed the government announcement of not holding gram sabhas on August 15 citing Covid-19.
In a statement on Friday Haasan, who had lost in the 2021 assembly elections to BJP leader Vanathi Srinivasan from Coimbatore, said that the DMK government is no different in not holding gram sabhas.
Haasan said that there was no difference between the DMK and the AIADMK in not holding gram sabha meetings which are the real voices of the local people.
He said that during the pandemic elections were conducted, swearing-in ceremony was held, Assembly functions and preparations for local body elections are being made, but gram sabhas are not being held citing Covid-19 as the reason.
He came down heavily on the DMK and said that the colours of the party have faded by not holding the gram sabha meetings.
He said that major political parties including the DMK and the AIADMK are not heeding the people’s voices and that this was not good in a democracy.
In Tamil Nadu gram sabhas are held which senior government officials and elderly people from the villages regularly attend.
Director of Rural Development K..S Palaniswamy told IANS, “We have decided to postpone gram sabhas across the state due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will not be possible to follow physical distancing norms if the meetings are held.”
He said, “We have decided to postpone the gram sabhas, they will be held once the situation is conducive to conduct such meetings.”
Gram Sabha meetings were not held in the state on May 1 also due to the Covid-19 lockdown since March.
According to the rules framed by the Tamil Nadu government, it is mandatory that gram sabhas meet at least four times a year — on January 26 (Republic Day), May 1 (May Day), August 15 (Independence Day) and October 2 (Mahatma Gandhi birth anniversary). Other than these dates, gram sabhas can be convened as and when required.
Generally the schedule and agenda for the gram sabhas are communicated by the state government to all district collectors before these four days. Every year the state government decides on certain themes like poverty alleviation or priority to primary education and they are communicated to the local authorities for passing resolutions at the meetings.
The district collectors in circulars to Block Development Officers (BDO) inform the gram sabhas about these resolutions.
There were 12,525 village panchayats in 36 rural districts across Tamil Nadu as of March 2020 and all registered voters of a village panchayat constitute the gram sabha.