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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 8, February 14, 2015

Appeal to Voters of Delhi

Monday 16 February 2015

DOCUMENT

The following appeal to the voters of Delhi was issued in the form of a press release from the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity on February 5, 2015 just before the Delhi Assembly elections which took place on February 7. Even though the elections are over and the results have been announced, we are publishing the appeal, signed by eminent personalities (like Prof Muchkund Dubey, Justice Rajindar Sachar, Kuldip Nayar), as it brings out several concerns before our polity at present.

Appeal to Voters of Delhi

The people in India are faced with a critical situation. Inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities amongst the individuals and groups of people are growing. The social and economic rights earned by people after long struggles are in the process of being diluted and abrogated. The land acquisition law, unanimously passed by Parliament, has been amended with a view to handing over the productive assets of the poor to the corporates. The coverage under the Food Security Act is proposed to be curtailed and PDS may be dismantled. The subsidies on essential commodities, which cushioned the impact of inflation, are threatened to be reduced or scrapped. Allocation of resources for such essential services as education, health and employment have been drastically reduced in the name of fiscal discipline to attract foreign investment which even in the best of circumstances, is a doubtful proposition. Universal coverage of MNREGS is being diluted to be confined to only backward blocks. Labour laws have been revised to curtail the rights of labour so as to give a free hand to the employers to pursue the policy of ‘hire-and-fire’ of employees at will and continue labour exploitation unchecked. People are reeling under the strain of unpreceented rise in food inflation, particularly vegetables, fruits and milk which are now beyond the reach of the poor and lower middle class. The rates of electricity and water are being periodically revised upwards without any objective basis, which is increasing the misery of low income families. There are clear indications of handing over health and education services to the private sector whose only interest is to make profit out of it. No one at the higher policy level has even made a mention of the Right to Education Act whose implementation period is coming to an end on 31 March, 2015. The urban poor, already marginalised in the ongoing process of urbanisation, are going to face even a more exclusionary environment in the proposed smart cities model of urban development. The ever increasing pollution is worsening the health conditions of the people, particularly the poor who have no assured access to health services. There is unprecedented rise in crime, particularly sexual violence against women and trafficking of children. Lakhs of young people are jobless and unable to find work while many who are in employment face the threat of job cuts, closure, and reduction in work force. The democratic space is increasingly shrinking and all those who oppose existing fiats, dispensations and policies are dubbed as anti-national and anti-development. Certain communal and political forces, with the blessings of those in power, have become hyperactive in fomenting communal animosity against religious minorities and destroying the social cohesion, the pluralistic heritage and the social fabric of harmony and trust between communities. The five attacks on Churches in Delhi in the last two months and the communal attacks on Muslims in Trilokpuri and some other areas of Delhi, are deeply disturbing trends. All these indicate that the State is abdicating its responsibility to function as a welfare, egalitarian and secular entity as mandated in our Constitution.

We would, therefore, appeal to the people to exercise their vote in the forthcoming election in Delhi with caution and not support candidates of political parties which have brought the country to the brink, have been responsible for its rapid deterioration over the past few months and are pursuing the above deleterious political and economic agenda. They should vote for a political party which is both committed to and holds out the best prospects for maintaining communal amity, curbing inflation, including through the provision of subsidised essential goods, not dispossessing people of their productive assets, providing widest coverage of food security, universalising quality education and public health services as a matter of right, and within a time-bound framework, ensuring physical security, particularly of the women, children and minorities, vigorously imple-menting labour laws and ensuring job security, creating employment opportunities on a large scale through the production of goods and services for the masses and not by mainly relying on foreign assistance and investment, assuring security against eviction to residents of slums and unauthorised settlements and reducing the ever increasing cost of electricity and water.

Signatories:

Prof Muchkund Dubey (President, Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity), Justice Rajindar Sachar, Kuldip Nayar, Advocate N.D. Pancholi, Swami Agnivesh, Prof K.B. Saxena, Prof Prem Singh, Father Dr Thomas, Mohammad Salim Engineer (Acting General Secretary, FDCA)