Delhi, 6 April, 2019: over 200 people’s movements and civil society organisations from Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi, and other states along with 5000 people were gathered at the Talkatora stadium in New Delhi to present a People’s Agenda on the eve of the upcoming 2019 elections.
A 40-page chargesheet indicting the current ruling government was presented along with a series of demands. People’s movements presented a strong positive agenda and the strong resolve to express their disaffection through the electoral process.
RTI activist Nikhil Dey while opening Jan Sarokar called it a historical day with many groups and campaigns coming together. “We have invited such political parties today who will protect the Constitution and has rights-based development approach,” he added.
Aruna Roy, an social activist who founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, while introducing the Jan Sarokar said that “this coming together signifies three things for People’s Movement as we are firstly evaluating the performance of the Government in the last four to five years and secondly within it are questioning why all the work done by the government has been done against its own promises and its affect on the economy, social structure and the political status of all citizens and finally we are going to see that this vote is the vote for democracy and for protecting the constitutional rights.”
Kavita Srivastava, a human rights worker, said that the Jan Sarokar is the most significant event prior to elections as a cross-section of civil society, movements and unions came together to give a strong call to vote against the present government and strengthen our democracy.
Speaking about people’s stake in the 2019 election, Syeda Hameed, former Member, Planning Commission urged everyone to understand the significance of the election as “it will have the most dramatic impact on all sections such as Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, children and one of the biggest constituencies which are women.” Hence, “Jan Sarokar which represents a huge surge of people’s movement should not only make sure that all parties and candidates listen to their voices and decide whether they place them in power or throw them out”, she added.
At the start of the day survivors of state and structural violence shared their painful and traumatic experience. Saira, mother of Junaid from Ballabgarh, said “if we remain united in our struggles. If we continue to stand by each other and support each other, there is much to gain.”
Survivors of mob violence in Gurgaon said “the police are refusing to help us, there is evidence of the attack on us and yet we are the ones being charged. We know the citizens of the nation stands with us. You are our strength but where do we go from here?”
Maqsood Mohammad from Alwar said “They shot my father. What is worse is that before they could even be tried in court, the killers were bailed and are roaming free. They alleged that we are cow smugglers, that it is our business to kill cows. I was jailed.”
Sukhadeo Thorat, an economist and was the former chairman of the University Grants Commission, slammed the government for its attack on Dalits and Adivasis “This government has done a 5-hour speech in parliament for Dalit and Adivasi welfare yet in terms of actual situation, the budget for welfare schemes for the communities and especially education has seen a dip.”
Gargi Bharadwaj-MalikaTaneja from Women for Theatre read out a statement endorsed by hundreds of female artists. The statement conveyed their opposition to the BJP government’s hate-filled governance and they emphasized that those “who promise to be our Chowkidaars are the ones who have made it impossible for women to roam the streets of the country freely.”
Political leaders from Congress, NCP, DMK, CPM, CPI, CPI-ML, Aam Aadmi Party, Swaraj India, Rashtriya Lok Day responding to the demands raised by 23 nation-wide civil society networks attended the meeting.
Sonia Gandhi of the Indian National Congress said: “Up until a few years ago we couldn’t even imagine the kind of hatred that would grip the nation.”She assured that promises made by the Congress party will be fulfilled and having proved ourselves in the past, we will continue do so and for that, we need to bring back and reclaim secular spaces and constitutional principles.”
LIVE: UPA Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi addresses Peoples’ Agenda- Jan Sarokar 2019 in New Delhi.#PeoplesAgenda2019
Indian National Congress ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಶನಿವಾರ, ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ 6, 2019
TKS Elangovan of the DMK “We need to elect a government that respects the citizens of the country, the constitution and the nation. NITI Aayog is purely meant for propaganda, it is a tool that the government uses to keep us as subjects and silent”
Comrade Raja of the CPI said “The Modi governing is serving the interests of the corporates and all it priorities. It is anti-women, anti-farmer, anti labourer, anti-Adivasi and anti-Dalit. People should not allow such governments to rule, saffron outfits shall not get away with their divisive politics and we should all fight together to remove this government from our centre.”
Kavita Krishnan of the CPI(ML) “These elections are not ordinary. It will decide whether our country will survive free or not. The current government is hell-bent on tearing apart the country and the Constitution that makes it democratic and equal in nature.”
Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party said, “Humanity is being killed by the current government.”
Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M), Tejashwi Yadav, RJD, Sharad Pawar, NCP, and Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India, sent video messages in solidarity with the Jan Sarokar.
We welcome the coming together of so many organisations to help safeguard the fundamentals of India which have been under attack over the past 5 years. We need to save India before we move to ultimately making a better India. In Solidarity #PeoplesAgenda2019 @jan_sarokar19 pic.twitter.com/P5TGUpAXLt
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) April 6, 2019
Children from ‘Nine is Mine’ raised their demands to have children’s issues included in the budget.
Representatives of people’s movements and campaigns raised their issues
Abhay Shukla of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan called for healthcare to be a fundamental right and make private health system accountable.
Faraz from Aastha working on disability rights asked that disability rights be included in every agenda and manifesto.
Bittu from Women against State and Sexual violence stated that the “Modi Sarkar drafted a law that that is anti-transgender and we demand that it should not be passed. The oppression faced by LGBT persons must end and we seek love and acceptance from everyone.”
Abhay Xaxa of the National Campaign for Adivasi rights said “Adivasi and Dalit youth are being systemically excluded from educational institutions. The MHRD and the UGC continue to exclude them from the mainstream.”
Annie Raja of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said, “The government that promised to protect women in 2014, who chanted Beti Padhao Beti Bachao are the ones who have done nothing to uplift the women of the country and their leaders have added to the misogyny and the patriarchal systems in the country.“
Amrita Johri of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) said, “This government has weakened all institutions that could have demanded accountability. Our first demand is to remove the electoral bond. Anybody who interferes with the RTI, they will not receive our votes.”
Salil Shetty of No Voter Left Behind said “Human rights defenders have been hounded, killed and defamed because they dare to question and also work with the minority communities of the country. We have to weed out fascist and authoritarian governments.”
Poet Gauhar Raza said “If in a country, the artists- painters, actors, poets, writers and many more warn you about the dangers that look ahead, they should be taken seriously. Voices are being suppressed across the country. It’s time to now vote against hatred spewing leaders.”
TM Krishna, renowned musician, made it clear that he saw “Jan Sarokar as an opportunity to join hands with everyone and say loud ‘No’ to the present dispensation as they have attacked social fabric physically, psychologically, emotionally, economically and in every possible way and the common people have been worst hit by the draconian measures.” The biggest lie that the ruling party has spread across the length and breadth of the country is that there is no alternative to them, he added. He urged people “to reject authoritarian rule and let multiple voices, multiple regional parties express diversity in the true sense of the word.”
Taking this forward Hannan Mollah, of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said that “Jan Sarokar in the context of the devastating attack on the Constitution, democracy and secularism assumes great importance as we are now coming together as people and standing as one rock to save the country.”
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movement said that “amidst all the mainstream manifesto there are so many people’s manifestos that must convey our message to both political parties and voter citizens and make sure that all the non-party process that people’s movement does between elections must play a role in these electoral process.” She went on to add that “it is not chunaav but chunauti because the ruling establishments are not only changing laws and caving into private interests but are attacking all people’s institution and people’s forums; at this stage unity is essential and we must take a stand not only on communal-secular divide but also on the development paradigm.”
Annie Namala, Wada naTodoAbhiyan, said that the “past five years have seen an attack on constitutional principles that protect the dalit and adivasi communities. This is an effort to recreate the hierarchical fractured society.”
Rahul Roy, who inspired the Not in my Name movement stated that this is a critical moment in the life of our republic and for each of us because if we fail to defend our constitution and democracy we will be condemned to a state of violence and chaos that will take years to clean.”
Reflecting on the Jan Sarokar Chargesheet on Food and Nutrition, Dipa Sinha, Right to Food Campaign, stated that the “media reports on 75 hunger related deaths in the last 3 years, is just tip of the iceberg and reflect an onslaught on people’s social and economic rights by the present government.”
Highlights from Jan Sarokaar Chargesheet
1. Since 2015, at least 75 men, women and children have died of hunger across 10 states of India. The cause of death was “prolonged” hunger.
2. Because of NDA’s pressurise to make Aadhaar mandatory, lakhs of families’ have not been getting their ration. People have died because they could not authenticate their biometric identity due to glitches in the Aadhaar technologies.
3. Under BJP, the unemployment rate has jumped to over 7.0%, the highest in 45 years.
4. Under NDA, India lost 1.1 crore jobs in 2018 alone, with rural India losing 90 lakhs jobs!
PM Modi promised 2 crore jobs every year to India. Yet, 11.56 crore educated youth were unemployed in 2017-’18!
5. Rs. 1.33 lakh crores of public money have been looted by fraudsters under the NDA. Of this, Rs.1.2 lakh crores were looted from public sector banks.
6. Despite promising housing for all (PMAY 2022), until March 2018, only 8% of houses were built under PMAY urban. Only 21% of the total allocated funds have been used over four years.
7. Under NDA, nearly 2.6 lakh people (both in rural and urban areas) were displaced because of various projects. This means that nearly 150 homes were destroyed daily.
8. NDA excluded 86% of India’s 2.7 crore mothers by limiting the PradhanMantriMatruVandanaYojana to the first birth.
9. Excluding the generic expenditure that NDA deceitfully included as Adivasi welfare, NDA allocated 52% less than what was allocated in 2014-’15.
10. Re-establishing the Company Raj, BJP’s draconian amendments to the Indian Forest Act give forest officials the power to shoot Adivasis without any liability!
11. NDA has diluted several Acts (MMRDA, Land Acquisition Act etc.) to allow corporates to acquire Adivasi and forest land without the consent of Adivasis and gram sabhas.
12. PM Modi’sAyushmann Bharat allocated merely Rs. 2000 Crore to provide insurance to 40% of India’s population. This would amount to a measly Rs.40 person p.a.!
13. Contravening a Supreme Court judgement, NDA’s NMC bill increases management quota in medical education by over 50%, thus enhancing the scope of capitation fees and reducing access to affordable medical education.
14. NDA’s proposed NMC bill also allowed Ayurvedic, Unani& Homeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners to undertake a six month bridge course, and then practice allopathic medicine.
15. Ensuring India is uninformed, the pendency of RTI requests jumped from 8.5 lakhs (in 2014-’15) to 14.5 lakhs (in 2017-’18). Furthermore, 08 of the 11 commissioners have not been appointed by the NDA.
16. NDA’s electoral bonds allow anonymous political funding. The NDA’s funding has consequently jumped up 12 times. 95% of anonymous donations (read black money) have been made to the BJP.
17. The NDA passed the highest number of ordinances since independence in a single term in office. It has passed 22 ordinances to bypass Parliament in key decision making.
18. The NDA has slashing funding for the University Grants Commission (UGC) by 55%. Consequently, grants to colleges have reduced, and fees have increased. In PanjabUniversity, fees were hiked by 1,110%. In IIT-Bombay, fees were hiked by 55%, while hostel fees washiked by 300%.
19. The NDA deliberately withheld Rs. 13,107 crores of the Post-Matric scholarship for Dalits and Adivasis.
20. 48% of all teaching positions in higher education institutions have been lying vacant simply because the NDA withheld teachers’ appointments for five years. There are over 1.6 lakh lecturers’ posts vacant in rural colleges.
21. The unit of reservation in universities and colleges has been shifted from the university/ college to a department. Consequently, a mere 7.22 per cent of faculty members are Dalits across 716 universities across India.
22. 56% of funds allocated to BetiBachao – BetiPadhao, were spent on publicity.
23. Contrary to PM Modi’s claim that 55% of all loans under the PradhanMantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) went to Dalits, only 11% of the total loans went to Dalits.
24. The BJP constantly resort to violence to silence journalists through the Sangh affiliates. In the first three years of NDA, there were 189 attacks on journalists. In the first few months of 2017, another 21 attacks were registered. Since then, the NDA has stopped reporting data. Consequently, India ranked 14th on the 2018 Global Impunity Index
25. The NDA has allowed the education system of India to collapse, with lakhs of vacancies of teachers at all level of education. There are 9,00,316 teacher posts that are vacant in Elementary Schools, and there are 1,07,689 teacher posts that are vacant in Secondary Schools. 1,05,000 government schools have just one teacher.
26. The completion rate for Dalit households under the IndiraAwasYojana declined from 74% in 2014-‘15 to just 0.02% in 2017-‘18.