The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Friday went ahead with gram sabha meetings despite a Tamil Nadu government’s directive against holding these meetings.
The government Thursday issued a circular that legal action will be initiated against individuals/political parties who convene gram sabha meetings as it violates the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994. The government claimed that on the pretext of holding gram sabha meetings, the political parties are conducting political rallies.
The directive stated that gram sabha meetings are supposed to be apolitical and are meant for redressing grievances and help the village to prosper.
“Gram Sabha is an administrative set up under the Constitution. The powers to convene a gram sabha meetings are vested only with the panchayat President under section 3 (2-A) of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994 . On his failure, the inspector of the panchayats or the district collector can convene the meeting,” the directive read.
The government added that people who don’t hold the authority, are trying to convene the gram sabha meeting to “confuse people for political gains”. “The district collectors should not provide permission to hold such meetings. If individuals /political parties try to convene a gram sabha meetings, the government will initiate legal action against them.”
The government’s order invited objection from DMK and its allies. DMK leader MK Stalin said no power including the Chief Minister can stop them from conducting such meetings. In a statement on Thursday, Stalin said the AIADMK government is shocked to see scores of people taking part in the grama sabha meetings. “Out of fear, the Chief Minister has called for a ban on our grama sabha meetings. If they (AIADMK) have the guts, let them even conduct the meeting. As per the directive, the meetings can’t be conducted only under the name of ‘gram sabha’ right? We will henceforth conduct the meeting under the name of ‘Makkal Sabha’ (People’s Sabha),” Stalin said.