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Mainstream, VOL L, No 51, December 8, 2012

Jan Sansad and the Countdown to 2014

Wednesday 12 December 2012

by B.D.

The organisation of Jan Sansad or People’s Assembly by nearly 56 people’s organisations in New Delhi from November 26 to November 30 is an important milestone in people’s reaffirmation of constitutional vales and their determination to protect these values from the onslaught of various vested interests.

This People’s Assembly was organised at a time of the government’s increasing drift towards anti-people decisions in recent times, and long delays in passing or even discussing pending important legislations on anti-corruption measures, food security and other urgent issues. Parliamentary proceedings have been stalled and delayed so that urgent issues could not be discussed.

It was in such a frustrating situation that the ability of many people’s organisations from all over the country to assemble at one place, seriously discuss some of the most pressing issues for several days and prepare a people’s manifesto on these issues and several pending legislations should be widely welcomed. Some of these organisations and campaigns are actually alliances of dozens of organisations so that the representation of organisations at the Jan Sansad was actually much higher.

Several of these organisations and campaigns had already spent a lot of effort in preparing pro-people agendas on various important issues and pending laws. Here they got a chance to discuss these at a wider forum so that the agendas could be further revised and improved. From the various consultations and exchanges many important documents on people’s view-points on major national issues could be prepared. These are still in the process being improved and finalised. However, a draft and preliminary people’s manifesto could be released on November 30 by the Jan Sansad.

This includes resolutions of the Jan Sansad on such a diversity of issues like Lokpal and Lokayukta, Citizens’ Grievances, Whistle Blower Protection Bill, Right to Information, police reforms, electoral reform, health, education, rural employment guarantee, community rights on natural resources, displacement and land acquisition, food security, agriculture, rights of Dalits, adivasis and women.
Clearly such a people’s manifesto will be very useful in putting pressure on the government, the ruling parties as well as the Opposition parties to bring their agenda closer to the people’s aspirations. A dialogue with the government and various political parties will continue on this. Representatives of various political parties also came to the Jan Sansad, although to what extent they will actually push for the Jan Sansad’s manifesto remains to be seen. The Jan Sansad has released this document as ‘People’s Manifesto—Countdown to 2014’ with the obvious implication that as the Lok Sabha elections approach, the government and various political parties can be put under pressure to give more attention to the people’s agenda.

This apart, the Jan sansad has been useful also for various people’s organisations in learning from each other. All those who strive for the broader unity of people’s organisations will be happy at such an effort. However, considerable follow-up work will have to be done to make this good effort an enduring success.

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