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Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Text of the Mahasabha's statement:

The electoral battle for the Jharkhand Assembly has started with a bang with the first phase. People came out in good numbers to vote. This election is crucial for protecting democracy and Constitutional values in the state.
Last five years saw constant attacks on people’s rights and basic tenets of democracy -- attempts to amend local tenancy laws, amendment in the Land Acquisition Act, setting up of land bank, starvation deaths, lynching, atrocities on Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and women, state-sponsored communalism, attacks on the freedom of expression, subversion on traditional self-governance systems of Adivasis, to name a few.
In such a decisive election, it is extremely important to understand where the political parties stand with respect to people’s rights. The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, had released a charter (attached) of people’s demands before both the Lok Sabha and the impending Assembly elections. It had demanded opposition parties to show firm commitment to people’s issues and their demands.
The Mahasabha has compared the manifestos released by political parties contesting for the Jharkhand Assembly election (attached). BJP’s manifesto reflects the party’s arrogance and continuing denial of severe violations of people’s rights over the last five years. It is silent on most of the demands of people.
The inclusion of implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in its manifesto exposes its communal and anti-poor ideology. The All Jharkhand Students Union or the AJSU party’s manifesto also ignores the demands barring a few exceptions, e.g. implementation of the forest rights Act, law against mob lynching and reservation for backwards castes.
The Mahasabha welcomes the inclusion of some of the people’s demands in the manifestos of the Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) and the CPI(ML). But the manifestos of the Congress, JVM and JMM do not include several demands that were based on the violations of people’s rights in last five years. Even though CPI(ML) did not release a detailed manifesto for assembly election (unlike Lok Sabha elections), its sankalp patra reflects all the major issues of the last five years.
Despite people’s opposition to land bank, none of the parties has committed to repeal the policy. A welcome declaration by the Congress is to cancel projects such as the Adani power plant and Mandal and Icha Kharkayi dams. But JMM talks only about “reviewing” it and JVM is silent on these projects.
A key demand of Adivasis has been implementation of the fifth schedule provisions in letter and spirit. But, barring JVM, none of the parties has committed to this. Regarding the demand to formulate a new domicile policy favouring Jharkhandis, the opposition parties offer vague commitments.
A welcome move by all opposition parties is the promise to formulate a law against mob lynching. But none of them commits to repealing the draconian bovine slaughter prohibition law that was in fact used to victimise some of the surviving victims of lynching incidents under the watch of the BJP government.
It indicates the growing discourse of religious majoritarianism, at the cost of values of secularism and equality, in opposition politics too. Another example is their silence on the demand to repeal freedom of religion act, formulated in 2015.
Despite the claims of development by BJP, the state saw at least 23 starvation deaths in the last five years. Even the opposition parties have not adequately addressed the issues of hunger, undernutrition and denial of welfare entitlements. Only the Congress has promised to increase the monthly public distribution system (PDS) grain entitlement to 35kgs per family and include pulses.
None of the parties has committed to increase the coverage of PDS or social security pensions. Even though Jharkhand has amongst the highest levels of undernutrition in the country, no political party has talked about increasing number of eggs in the meals given to children in schools or anganwadis. Aadhaar has created havoc in welfare programmes in the state but none of the parties commit to delink aadhaar.
Even though, the last five years saw staggering violations of political and civil rights, parties remain largely non-committal on redressing them. The Mahasabha has been raising the issue of repression and human rights violations in Pathalgadi villages. Thousands of people, primarily Adivasis, have been accused of sedition as “unknowns” in several FIRs. None of the parties has committed firmly to closure of sedition charges, removal of police camps and taking responsible security personnel to task.
It is worrying that in this election season, political parties are more interested in securing defections of candidates from other parties, than finding solutions for addressing people's demands.
Even the commitments made by opposition in their manifesto are yet to reflect in their campaign across the state. On the other hand, the BJP, unable to run away from its failures, is raking up Ram Mandir and article 370 talks in its attempt to polarize the voters.
The Mahasabha demands from all opposition parties to demonstrate firm commitment against the attempts of religious polarization and to address people’s demands in their election campaign. It urges citizens to consider the commitment of political parties to people’s rights before casting their vote.
The Mahasabha hopes that this election will lead to the formation of a government that will be committed to ensuring people’s rights, preservation of constitution and democratic institutions and strengthening secular and democratic values in Jharkhand.
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Click here to download political manifestos and the Mahasabha’s demands charter

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