Manifesto Making Exercise By Parties

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Political parties have also shown a tendency to use manifesto making exercise as a propaganda tool. For example both Congress and BJP claim to be seeking public opinion to forge their manifestoes. That, in a way, becomes part of their mass contact programme.

Major parties in the state have begun the exercise to draft their election manifestoes. The effort is to ensure that they reflect their vision for the next five years if voted to power. At the same time they should also reflect the aspirations of the people. This is not an easy exercise given that they are supposed to be sacrosanct documents. Very often it has been seen that politicians treat people to hoaxes in the name of manifesto promises.

Political parties have also shown a tendency to use manifesto making exercise as a propaganda tool. For example both Congress and BJP claim to be seeking public opinion to forge their manifestoes. That, in a way, becomes part of their mass contact programme.

As an idea it is good that people are involved in the making of manifestoes, that their opinions are sought. This also shows how sincere a party is about the promises it is going to make. At the same time quite interestingly there is a demand from civil society members to bring the election manifestoes of various political parties within a legal framework so that they can be made accountable and it becomes legally binding for them to fulfill the promises made by them when they come to power.

Last week a group of civil society activists in Bhubaneswar submitted a memorandum to the governor in this regard. The move is good as the manifesto promises of political parties in our country are frequently violated with politicians trying to avoid fulfilling their promises once voted to power. This shows politicians and political parties in a poor light. They are seen as lying to people. It affects the health of our democracy.

Recently one has seen an interesting trend in Odisha with parties like Congress and BJP entering into written contracts with people. During his recent visit to the steel city of Rourkela Congress president, Rahul Gandhi launched “guarantee cards” for youths, farmers and women listing out promises the party undertake to fulfill if voted to power.

While the “guarantee cards” promise women financial assistance for higher education and marriage of their daughters apart from the appointment of a woman officer in each panchayat to deal with cases of violence against them they assure farmers loan waivers  on the first day of government formation and Rs.2600 as the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy. They similarly hold out the promise of a minimum income guarantee to the youth.

Not be left behind the BJP soon after launched a ‘pratishruti patra’ or charter of promises guaranteeing pucca houses and  homestead land for the poor and jobs for the unemployed if voted to power. The saffron party plans to reach out to 50,000 villages across the state with such “pratishruti patras’’ with its leaders exuding confidence about fulfilling the promises being made.

Though the ruling BJD is yet to make such a move but one should not be surprised if it comes up with one.

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