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People to draft the election manifesto of SR Darapuri

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Message Bobby Ramakant

People to draft the election manifesto of SR Darapuri

In times when manifestos of election candidates are announced by the highest seats of political 'ivory towers', a people centric initiative is taking shape in Lucknow. A series of public meetings led to the nomination of people's candidate from prestigious Lok Sabha constituency of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh in India. Indian Police Service (IPS) 1972 batch officer SR Darapuri (retired Inspector General (IG) of Police) is the candidate of Lok Rajniti Manch (People's Politics Front) from Lucknow. Darapuri is a prominent social and human rights activist. He is part of the people's movements aimed at empowerment of common people. During service he was regarded as an honest and diligent officer.

Lok Rajniti Manch desires to build a new political culture which will be an alternative to the dominant money and muscle powered politics which will bring the common people's issues to the core of politics, where the candidates will have a history of serving the people, where the politicians will not require armed security, where the candidates will strictly follow the code of conduct set up by Election Commission, where the election expenses will be made public and where the candidate will conduct himself/herself in a transparent manner and will be accountable to the people. The candidate irrespective of the result of the election will continue to serve the people.

This is a small beginning to challenge the stranglehold of crime and corruption over politics.

People who are affected by or working on issues ranging from violence against women, gender-based inequalities, right to health, right to education, reproductive health and rights, discrimination or violence against dalit, youth-related issues, girls and children-related issues, public health, substance abuse, caste-based discrimination, and others, are interacting with Darapuri to draft his election manifesto.

The manifesto is coming from the people and is aimed to reflect concerns of the people themselves. This participatory process where people are getting a chance to voice their concerns with dignity in the election manifesto of Darapuri is indeed an empowering process.

Darapuri, while interacting informally with the people, said that he consented to fight the elections to raise the public's issues and create an alternative in the otherwise grim scenario of Indian politics where corruption and criminalization has risen to an alarming level.

"Those committing themselves to serve the people need to be honest and sensitive to people's issues" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and member of National Presidium, Lok Rajniti Manch. "It is important for the people's representatives to be sensitive to their issues and not just merely honest," said Pandey.

Dr Sandeep Pandey is one among those who had sought legal recourse to challenge the film-star turned Samajwadi Party's candidate for Lucknow lok sabha constituency Sanjay Dutt. Later the Supreme Court ruling made it clear that Sanjay Dutt cannot contest elections in Lucknow at this time.

Is it not ironic that those who are alleged to be exploiting the poor and the marginalized, and often those with anti-social backgrounds, have found a way to manipulate the cauldron of political power?

Lok Rajniti Manch indeed gives hope to the people, particularly the youth. Many young people have organized themselves as Project Vijay to root out corruption and increase accountability and transparency in the system. They are supporting Darapuri and raising key issues to generate meaningful dialogue among general public.

Lucknow goes to the polls on 30 April 2009.

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Bobby Ramakant is a development journalist and has been writing on development issues since 1991. Health is one of the key focus areas he writes on. He is also a World Health Organization (WHO)'s WNTD awardee for 2008
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