People’s Assembly roots for reforms and their implementation

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The Assembly pushed for the strengthening and passing of the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill, as politicians assured better governance

Shazia Nigar 
New Delhi

Aruna Roy
Aruna Roy

In the absence of a functional Parliament, the five-day Jan Sansad or People’s Assembly on Tuesday 27 November took matters into its own hands and passed resolutions on issues ranging from the Lokpal Bill to police reforms at the Jantar Mantar. Hundreds of people from across the country who have gathered in the capital for the assembly deliberated over these matters and passed resolutions with a show of hand.

Dharam Chand Kher, 30, from Rajasthan participated actively in the sessions. “We need a Lokpal Bill that is stronger than the one proposed by Anna Hazare,” he said commenting on his decision to favour the resolution on the Lokpal passed by the Assembly. Clarifying his stand on development he explained, “We want development but with adequate rehabilitation. Our people are displaced for projects that are city oriented. We end up losing our land and get negligible compensation. Losing our land is not just a loss of livelihood but a matter of life.” He fiercely advocated an introduction of the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill.

Echoing Dharam Chand’s sentiments was Dhananjay Dubey. His brother Satyendra Dubey, former Project Director, National Highway Authority of India, had been murdered in 2003 for exposing corruption in the Golden Quadlilateral Highway Project in Bihar. He said, “Though the present draft of the Whistle Blowers’ Bill isn’t perfect, we should try to push it through. At least we will have some protection then. We can continue to work on improving the Bill later.” Tuesday marked the ninth death anniversary of Satyendra Dubey. The gathering welcomed the resolution to pass the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill.

Prakash Javadekar from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) committed himself to the cause of the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill. Admitting to the existent nexus between corporate houses and politicians, he said, “Earlier party workers used to be farmers and small shop owners. Today out of 25 workers 10 are real estate agents.”

The other politician to extend his support was D.Raja from the CPI. Critiquing the Congress-led UPA government he said, “The Left parties realise that Foreign Direct Investment is not in the interest of the people. It will only lead to corporate loot. There are so many important Bills related to land and food security that the government has not tabled for this session. Like Ambedkar has said we must build effective public pressure so that the government is pressured to act.”

A demand was placed for a Grievance Redressal Bill and Private Sector Reform. Shanta Bai, 50, from Rajasthan elucidating on the need for strengthening the Right to Information Act said, “The Act is very important and allows people to demand accountability from those in power. But there have been issues in implementation which is why I am in favour of the resolution passed by the Assemble today.” She said, “We are deliberating on issues that impact our daily lives — land rights, forest and pension. I will go back to my village and spread the message.”

shazia@tehelka.com

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