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2019 polls: Political parties told to fight "undeclared" emergency, protect people

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), claiming to be a coalition of more than 30 “progressive” organisations, activists and intellectuals working in different parts of Jharkhand for the rights of poor, Adivasis, Dalits, women and minorities, has said that India is passing through a phase of “undeclared emergency”, and the 2019 elections provide an “important opportunity” to reverse this predicament.
Putting forward demands before political parties seeking to “protect” the Constitution, preserve “democratic institutions”, and “protect” secular values, protect natural resources, and come up with policies to halt starvation deaths, lynching incidents, increasing atrocities on Adivasis, Dalits, minorities and women, attacks on freedom of expression and harassment of activists, JJM says, it is ready to discuss these.

Text of the demands:

JJM believes that our state and country are passing through a phase of undeclared emergency. Peoples’ rights and basic tenets of democracy are under attack: amendment in Land Acquisition Act, starvation deaths, lynching incidents, increasing atrocities on Adivasis, Dalits, minorities and women, state-sponsored communalism, attacks on the freedom of expression, harassment of activists, attacks on traditional self-governance systems of Adivasis, to name a few.
In this background, the 2019 Lok Sabha election presents an extremely important opportunity to protect democracy and the Constitution. On the one hand, the ruling dispensation is sparing no effort to weaken democratic institutions and on the other, principal opposition parties also do not have a firm stand on people’s issues.
JJM hopes that 2019 elections will lead to formation of a government that will be committed to ensuring people’s rights, preservation of constitution and democratic institutions and committed to secular and democratic values.
JJM demands from all political parties contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to exhibit explicit commitment on the following people’s issues in their election manifesto. The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha will discuss the question of political commitment on these issues with the people across the state.
Gram Sabha and Natural Resources
  • Repeal Land Acquisition Amendment Act 2018 (Jharkhand) and Land Bank policy. No amendment, against the interest of Gram Sabha and people at large, should be made in land laws. Land taken over or identified under these policies should be immediately returned to the owners / Gram Sabha.
  • All those projects that are being undertaken without consent of Gram Sabha and by violating land laws should be scrapped Icha-Kharkai embankment, Godda Adani Power project, Palamu elephant corridor, Mandal dam are few examples falling in this category. 
  • Samta judgement, Fifth Schedule and PESA should be implemented in letter and spirit. Rules for PESA to be formulated. Forest Rights Act should be enforced fully and all community and individual claims should be accepted. 
Civil and Democratic Liberties
  • Laws that are blatantly and repeatedly used for suppression of freedom of expression and harassment of activists should be immediately repealed. Few examples are Sections124A (sedition) and 499 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act and National Security Act. All fabricated cases filed under these laws / provisions in Jharkhand should be withdrawn.
  • Immediate release of under trial prisoners languishing in Jharkhand’s jails since a long time. Immediate release of Adivasi under-trials, falsely branded as Naxals (more than 3000 in number). 
  • Repression by administration and security forces in Khunti district by claiming Pathalgarhi to be unconstitutional should be immediately stopped. All cases to be withdrawn, police camps to be winded up, victims to be compensated and perpetrators of repression should be punished. 
Domicile and Reservation
  • Present domicile policy of the state to be repealed. Instead domicile policy to consider only those who are native inhabitants of Jharkhand as local residents to be formulated.
  • Rules should be framed to ensure maximum participation of local residents in decision-making positions at all levels of all government and private jobs. At least 50% reservation should be ensured for Adivasis, Dalits, and backwards in promotion in government jobs. At least 33% reservation should be ensured for women in all areas. All vacant posts in all departments should be filled within one year of formation of government.
  • Provision of 10% reservation for financially weak candidates (which is primarily a reservation for savarnas) should be scrapped since this provision is against basic principles of reservation and social justice. 
Social Security, Healthcare and Education
  • Universal basic services and social security for all citizens to be guaranteed for – food, nutrition, universal common education till secondary level, and maternity benefits. Aadhaar-based biometric authentication should be removed from all welfare programmes and public services and Aadhaar should not be made mandatory for any welfare programme and public services.
  • Universal PDS with at least 7 kg food grain per person, pulses and edible oil. Expansion of Dal-Bhat Kendras with improved services. Social security pension of at least Rs 3000 per month for all elderly, specially abled, single women and members of particularly vulnerable tribal groups. Maternity benefits of at least Rs 6,000 per child to all pregnant women (without conditionalities). Cooked nutritious meal, with six eggs per week, for all children in Anganwadis and midday meals in schools. 
  • Expansion of employment guarantee programme to urban areas and for skilled labour as well. Expansion of the right to work for every rural family under NREGA to 200 days per year with minimum Rs 300 per day wages or minimum wage of the state, whichever is higher. 
  • Expansion of Right to Education to cover equal and free education for all children up to Class 12. Order of merging schools should be recalled by Jharkhand govt and closed schools should be reopened. 
  • All citizens should be provided common, free and quality health services through public health system. Delivery of government health services to be strengthened at all levels, especially for primary and preventive care. 
Agriculture
  • All recommendations of Swaminathan Committee should be implemented and farmers should be paid procurement price of 50% over and above the C2 cost of cultivation. All surplus produce of farmers should be procured on time. One-time comprehensive loan waiver. Control of all forest produce should be vested with Gram Sabha.
  • Irrigation facilities based on rainwater, rivers, rivulets and existing dams should be ensured. Irrigation management should primarily be done by Gram Sabha and at secondary level by Panchayati Raj institutions. 
  • Cow Protection Act of Jharkhand should be scrapped and restrictions on trade of animals should be withdrawn. 
Religion, Culture and Language
  • Freedom of religion Act, Jharkhand should be scrapped. Adivasi religion, by the name of Sarna or some other name (decided by the Adivasi communities), should be officially recognised.
  • Adivasi and regional languages of Jharkhand should be used in official communications and these should be made additional medium for education in schools. 
  • Special provisions and schemes for comprehensive development of minorities based on recommendations of the Sachar Committee. Separate budget provisions should be made for minority communities. 
Transparent, Accountable Governance and Electoral Reforms
  • Complete transparency in funding of political parties. Restrictions imposed for lodging complaints by citizens on public representatives and government officials should be withdrawn. Right to recall elected representatives should be made fundamental right.
  • Sanctity of Right to Information Act should be maintained, without any form of dilution. A decentralised grievance redress mechanism should be established in the state. Online facility for filing Right to Information applications in the state to be established.

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