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Pitch in to redefine democracy

- Meetings in 8 LS constituencies to prepare people’s manifesto

The 2014 parliamentary elections may witness a remarkable difference. The country, which is used to the quinquennial brouhaha over manifestos of political parties, will see one from the aam aadmi’s stable this time. And, the best thing is, you can contribute to this people’s manifesto.

Jharkhand Wada Na Todo Abhiyan — the offspring of a national campaign, which is a network of NGOs and civil society organisations — is preparing the mission statement for the new government to come to power at the Centre and a workshop to this effect was held in Ranchi on Thursday.

While 40-odd organisational representatives, besides journalists and retired bureaucrats, took part in the daylong deliberations, a series of public meetings are scheduled in different Lok Sabha constituencies of Jharkhand in coming days.

The one-of-a-kind democratic initiative comes at a time when a common man’s party flew its magic broom to slay a three-term national giant in Delhi. In the recently held Assembly elections, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) mauled the Congress and stunned the BJP by winning 28 seats of the total 70, leaving behind a hung House in the national capital.

A.K. Singh, co-convener of the state chapter of the Abhiyan, which wants to hold the government accountable to its promise of ending poverty, social exclusion and discrimination, said their primary aim was to collate public aspirations and make parties incorporate them in their political agenda.

For the purpose, a total of 100 parliamentary constituencies have been selected across the seven states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Based on factors such as poverty and concentration of SC/ST population, the Abhiyan has zeroed in on eight of the total 14 seats in Jharkhand. The list comprises Ranchi, West Singhbhum, Palamau, Hazaribagh, Koderma, Giridih, Dumka and Rajmahal.

Jharkhand Abhiyan members have been directed to organise around 15 meetings with villagers in each constituency, two town meetings at block and district levels and five meetings exclusively with farmers, tribals and Dalits, persons with disabilities and such underprivileged groups.

The deadline to draw up the people’s manifesto at constituency, state and national levels is February 15.

Speaking at Thursday’s workshop, former state chief secretary A.K. Singh advised focus on a few very important things while preparing the mission statement. “Epidemic absenteeism of government officials has paralysed the delivery mechanism as far as basic development projects are concerned,” he pointed out.

Journalist Madhukar warned that the manifesto might become voluminous when every aam aadmi’s opinion was taken into account. “So, the focus should be on basic needs, which political parties must be compelled to pursue in the run-up to next year’s polls.”