People's Manifesto (WNTA) Newsletter--February
People's Manifesto is in full swing in 250 parliamentary constituencies of 22 states in the country. Over 1500 meetings have already been conducted with villagers, special groups at constituency level to know their demands. Some of the states such as Jharkhand and West Bengal have already completed their state level consultations and have prepared final drafts of state level manifestos.
WNTA and its partners are getting quite a good response from political parties too. Our team members had put forward the demands of the people to Congress manifesto committee members Mukul Wasnik and Prof Mohan Gopal in a meeting. They assured that the demands of the people will be kept in mind while making the manifesto of the party. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader and a member in the party's manifesto committee Prem Kumar Dhumal replied to our letter and assured that the party would consider our suggestions while making the party's manifesto.
Meanwhile our engagement with people at ground level is getting us insightful inputs and list of demands for making the national level manifesto that will reflect the demands of the general public. For example: In Raipur district of Chhattisgarh, WNTA held a meeting with 44 sex workers in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) to know their demands. Sex workers are one of the most marginalized sections of society. They shared their plights with civil society groups and put forward a list of demands to improve their standard of living in cities.
Sex workers demanded that the government must arrange a shelter home for sex workers who opted out of trade on their own will as it becomes difficult to get a space in society for them. They should also be provided some pension to manage their expenses as there is no social security for them. They demanded that the government should generate employment opportunities for them and keep them informed so they can be rehabilitated. Getting an identity card is a challenge for them. The government must introduce a system where they could get their id cards such as ration cards, voters cards easily made. They complained about physical violence by customers and police apathy. They demanded for courteous and protective behavior from government administration particularly from police.
In Bilaspur, slum dwellers of Jhopra Para demanded that they have been living on the land for past couple of decades. They should not be evicted until the High Court decides on the pending case. And, if they are resettled the habitat shall not be far from the city as it could affect their livelihood. They also demanded that police and government bodies shall stop harassing them and should ensure proper sewerage, water supply and electricity supply in the area. They also demanded schools in the areas and closure of liquor shops.
Our partners in West Bengal have come up with a draft of the state level manifesto that reflectsthe demands of the marginalized sections of the state. The key demands in the draft manifesto focused on women safety by ensuring to stop all kind of gender based violence, proper implementation of existing central government schemes such as NREGA, RTE, Food Security, availability of potable water in every village, introduction of Maitrijan, and, improvement of health and education facilities in the state. People also demanded that Madarasas should be modernized for the welfare of children of minority communities. Government should provide support and facilities to all students irrespective of class, gender and community . There should not be any discrimination regarding facilities between students of Madrasas and High Schools. People from tribal areas demanded that government shall introduce tribal curriculum in tribal language.
People also demanded proper rehabilitation, compensation and job for people who have displaced because of industrialization or development projects. Villagers demanded that the government shall ensure proper nutrition diet for children and pregnant women.
Our partners in Madhya Pradesh held a special meeting with Bedia community. Krishna Bedia who is Sarpanch of Sukha Karar village of Sanchi block demanded that the government shall take initiative to improve the lives of the Bedia community that is one of the most marginlaised communities of the state. People in the state demanded 200 days of work under MNREGA and also asked for redefining of the Below Poverty Line(BPL) criterion.
We are actively engaging with people on social media to get their remarks and their suggestions on the process. Regular updates about People’s Manifesto and its programs are available on FB,Twitter and also on our website.