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“Let Your Vote Be On Issues”

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politician-cartoon-in-indiaThe elections are here. Shall we bring our issues to the notice of political leaders and their parties?

Elections for the Parliament and Assembly are underway. It looks like a political carnival of sorts in India. Political leaders, party nominees and party heads are leaving no stone unturned in wooing the voters, promising them of making the heavens descend on Earth; if they are voted to power. The people of India are being given strange and in many cases, impractical assurances. Politicians are standing at our doorsteps, with folded hands and arms ready to give us a jadoo ki jhappi. Many are changing their party khanduas within hours, foul-mouthing the parties and their leaders, to whom they had pledged their allegiance for a long time. They defend their actions, saying it is in the best interest of the ‘bechaara aam aadmi’. Should we just laugh it away, treating it as a once-in-a-five-year drama? They would seldom be visible for the next five years if they win. Therefore, let us not lose this opportunity in questioning them and making them answer.

All are talking tall about developing Telangana, Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. They claim to be in the business of realising peoples’ aspirations. Leaders belonging to the forward castes including but not limited to Reddy, Velama, Choudhary castes and many well-to-do leaders who claim to be representing the aspirations of the weaker sections; are all chanting the development mantra. Media has been exposing how family members and friends of those leaders who have already enjoyed power have seen the real development, which somehow a common man couldn’t see on the horizon. Figures are not talking about just a few crores anymore. It has been running into hundreds and thousands of crores lately.

Shall we bring pressure on the political leaders this election season to solve issues concerning the society?

If the people of Telangana claim ownership of Hyderabad, the people of Seemandhra are equally staking their claims in its so-called development. It is a known fact that the city of Hyderabad was world famous for over a century now. However, in the last three decades the ‘Pearl City’ has undergone a destructive transformation, all in the name of the so-called ‘development’. Our leaders are making statements about making Hyderabad a model city of international repute; post creation of the Telangana state. The people of the 500 Villages (54 Mandals covering 5 Districts) which have been brought under HMDA, have been pleading for their Villages to be kept under the jurisdiction of their respective districts. If your party comes to power, would you take a decision in favour of the aspirations of people living in those 54 Mandals?

 Hyderabad used to be a Centre for employment. In the past 15 years, more than 20 Government-run institutions and more than 2000 small-scale industries have undergone closure. Will your party strive to at least revive some of these closed down small-scale industries if it comes to power? Will it guarantee a decent livelihood? With no robust plan in mind, how do you expect us to believe that you would create employment for the already barely-surviving unemployed youth of our Telugu Jaati?

Even a light rain creates havoc, throwing life in the city out-of-gear. Land grabbers, who include political leaders, rowdy sheeters and influential people, have been encroaching on the Nalas and Lakes in and around Hyderbad. Would you rectify the mistakes done in the past in failing to protect them? How would you assure the people that after winning the elections, your party representatives wouldn’t worsen the situation further?

 The Musi River, which flows through Hyderabad has become a victim of the worst forms of pollution. Not only the sewage, but also the industrial waste is being let into it. The Water Treatment Plants, which were installed over a decade ago, have not been completely functional. The Southern Musi waters, which fill over 70 lakes need to be treated urgently. Will your party assure us that you would come up with a proper plan and implement it sincerely to save Musi?

 The situation of our city’s healthcare system has gone from bad to worse. In the 118 healthcare centres in the twin-cities, 5 area hospitals and 10 big hospitals, people are suffering, as there are neither basic facilities, nor sufficient staff. Would you improve the condition of these hospitals which are considered the peoples’ temples? Government hospitals have completely been left for the poor-class. Would you, your relatives and your party elders stop going to private hospitals and go get treated just like the millions of poor people who use government healthcare in the city? Can you even dare to do that?

 Your past assurances are still just assurances…nothing has changed…will the status quo remain? Shall we question our political leaders?

 Despite the enactment of The Right to Education Act of 2009, many Government Schools llie in ruins. There are no pakka buildings for many schools and over 200 schools have no drinking water and toilet facilities. By sending your kids to corporate/ private schools, you have left the government schools to the poor. Would you and your party care to solve this major problem?

 40 per cent of the Municipal Budget is supposed to be spent for the poor people living in the city. The central government has given directions to that effect. By issuing a GO, our state government has also reiterated that in 2008. However, utilisation of funds has not been done according to our own government’s directives. If you come to power, would you implement your own orders?

With a view to transform 178 cities in our country into slum-free cities, our government has introduced a mission programme and declared it as Rajiv Awaas Yojna (RAY). In the twin-cities, about 18 lakh people are living in over 2000 slums. Many of them, for decades. They still do not have rights on their property. They do not have even basic facilities. The government has in the past has given statements about recognizing 1472 slums and providing property rights to those living in them and had also promised to construct pakka houses in those slums for these people. However, the work has not yet seen the dawn. If your party comes to power, would you enact a legislation for protecting the slum-dwellers’ property rights and develop these slums?

 There are about 20 thousand street vendors living in the twin-cities. Due to harassment they face from the law enforcement and the municipal officials, they have been living a very insecure life. The central government has brought about Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. On similar lines, our state government has drafted a bill. By enacting the bill, would your party’s government give protection to the street vendors? Would vending zones be established as mentioned in the Street Vendors Act?

 The Metropolitan Water Supply Board has been able to provide drinking water to only 40 per cent of the city’s population. The rest have been getting water scarcely. In the slums located in and around the city, the drinking water situation is hopeless. To improve this, what immediate steps would you take?

 According to the 74th Constitutional Amendment, through the Ward Committees and Area Sabhas, decisions concerning the issues and problems in the wards need to be taken. Representatives of the political parties, corporators and influential people are not letting the meetings of the ward committees and area sabhas happen. In such a crucial matter concerning the authority to take a decision and the peoples’ involvement in the decision-making process, would real democracy be allowed to prevail? Or would you continue to lay road-blocks in the process?

 Rules have been violated in lavishly issuing permissions for running wine shops, which have been causing problems on all fronts for the people. Illicit liquor and other illegal alcoholic substances are being sold in the slums. Would a reassessment of the situation be done and the problem is solved?

 There has been a huge concern regarding the waste in the city. Cleanliness is deteriorating day-by-day. By entrusting the waste in the hands of Ramki Company, our Municipality has shrugged-off its responsibility. It has put the cleanliness and the workers in the hands of private contractors. With a meagre remuneration for the hazardous work they do, the municipal staff have been suffering for a long time. If your government forms, would you regularize the contract municipal employees and come up with a comprehensive plan for cleanliness in the city?

 Rowdyism has increased in the city, which has become a major concern for the people. There are instances where the representatives of the people, even Ministers themselves have behaved like goons, sometimes, not even hesitating in attacking even the law enforcement officials.  Will you behave in similar fashion if you are elected?

 The Collectors of Hyderabad and Rangareddy Districts have prepared a list of all lands in the districts which have not been encroached upon yet. Would you assure us that neither you nor your followers would occupy those lands? Would you take steps to protect them?

 These problems are just a tip of the iceberg. Violence against women, police atrocities against the poor and the Muslim youth, particular problems of the old city, public transportation, public distribution system of essential provisions, irregularities in the Anganwadi centres and so on. It is a pandora’s box of issues. This is the right time to question. The people must utilize this opportunity. The leaders are confident that they would represent us for the next 5 years. There has been a proposal being put forward by democrats which asks for introducing Right to Recall Act, where the people would get a chance to re-assess and re-evaluate a peoples’ representative after three years in office and recall the representative, if his/ her performance is not up to the expectations of the people. You representatives of the people, beware! The people who elect you would soon get the power to strip you off your power.

-Human Rights Forum (HRF) – Twin-Cities Unit.

Publishers- Syed Bilal 9247498460              Karthik Navayan –9346677007

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