“We will hold the entire political class, including Government, accountable for not acting on people’s issues”

Days after the Union Government rolled out cash transfer for subsidies and entitlements, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sansthan activist and Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy said here on Friday that the advisory body was not taken into confidence before implementing the controversial policy decision.

Speaking on the final day of “Jan Sansad”, a coalition of over 60 peoples’ movement, Ms. Roy said the NAC had no say in implementing the targeted transfer of cash of subsidies. Referring to the diminished influence of the NAC in the Government’s policy decision making process, she said: “These days there are lots of issues which do not come up before the NAC. The cash transfer of subsidies had not come before us. It (NAC) has become bureaucratic.”

Talking to the media about the Government’s “total ignorance” of public concerns over Bills on land rights, Dalit issues, labour reforms, child rights, gender discrimination, transparency and accountability, Ms. Roy said it cannot continue to do it for long. “The Government cannot wash its hands off through policies like cash transfers for social entitlements. We will struggle and protest for people’s rights and interests at various levels. Let’s see till when the Government ignores the people’s movement. Sooner or later it has to accept our demands if not in full then the important ones.”

Referring to the five-day common campaign by the Jan Sansad to bring to the attention of Parliament many issues awaiting legislative action, she released the “People’s Manifesto” for the next general elections. “We want to make it very clear to all the political class, including the Government, that we will hold them accountable for not acting on people’s issues,” she added. The manifesto will be presented to the Government for appropriate action.

The manifesto demands pending legislations like the Lokpal, Grievance Redressal, Whistle Blower and the Judicial Accountability Bills be passed. On the issue of the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Bill, the manifesto demands that bank accounts not be made mandatory for getting the MNREGS account besides keeping UID out of the employment scheme.

The manifesto also opposes the recently introduced cash transfer of subsidies, calling it “an attempt by the Government to wash off its hands from the responsibility to provide basic services and social security to its citizens”. Arguing that the scheme will have a “disastrous” impact on the lives of the marginalised who are dependent on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and other forms of entitlements in health and education, the manifesto demands immediate rollback of the move.

The manifesto strongly advocates amendments in the proposed Land Acquisition & Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011. It proposes incorporation in the Bill of mandatory consent of a majority of Gram Sabha members on all matters pertaining to land acquisition.

Calling upon the Centre and the States to address the agrarian crisis with the highest urgency and priority, the manifesto demands a statutory permanent income commission for farmers with the mandate of implementing an income assurance for all farming community including small farmers, tenants and agricultural workers.

The manifesto specifically talks about the status of women in the country. “Being born a woman in this world is a curse and being born a Dalit woman is an even bigger curse. Women, irrespective of their class and caste, are easy targets of violence. Even the agencies responsible for protecting women are violating their rights.”

It demands that the elected representatives pass the Bill on women’s reservation without any dilution. It also demands stringent punishment for perpetrators of sexual assault, child sexual abuse and rape. It also demands release of all human rights activists who have been arrested while struggling for social and political justice on behalf of the marginalised.

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