NDA has not kept manifesto promises, says civil society platform

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NEW DELHI, MAY 23,
As the NDA enters the last year of its current term, about 4,000 civil society organisations under the platform of Wada Na Toda Abhiyan found the government falling short, not only in its delivery of its manifesto promises, but in its defence of constitutional promises.
The platform’s citizens report on four years of the NDA government, titled “Promises and Reality” and released on Tuesday, takes stock of the government’s performance in various sectors. It says the government has not lived up to its promises in health and education, stating that only 9.4% of schools are compliant with the Right To Education Act, while the child health budget is less than 2% of GDP. The report says employment, investment and manufacturing engagement have all fallen far short of manifesto promises.
The report also points to gaps in design and planning for schemes. For example, the number of consumers under the Ujwala scheme to provide gas connections to households have gone up, indicating that women have moved away from unhealthy, polluting chulhas. However, the report finds that the number of cylinders have not actually gone up, as many families could not afford to buy a second cylinder once their first free cylinder ran out and have been forced to return to their chulhas even while they supposedly have a gas connection.
One glaring gap in the report is the lack of a separate section on agriculture although it is mentioned in passing in the budget and economy sections.
“The report is looking at the government’s promises through the lens of marginalised and vulnerable communities, and we find that many of them are being exploited in various ways,” said Annie Namala, convenor of the group. She pointed to environmental laws and guidelines which seem to have been diluted to favour the ease of doing business over the rights of local communities, and an assault against citizens rights through a weakening of laws regarding Right to Information, whistleblowers and Lokpal, alongside an aggressive promotion of Aadhaar.
“These are not just manifesto promises, these are constitutional promises that we need to hold this government accountable to,” said former convenor Amitabh Behar.
Opposition political parties present at the report release urged civil society to go beyond talking about policy accountability and move to political mobilisation and education of voters. “Civil society has a responsibility to educate voters, and not let money steamroll elections as we have seen in some recent polls,” said All India Congress joint secretary Krishna Allavaru.
“It is not enough to just write reports, you must also convince the people,” said CPI (M) member of Parliament Hannan Mollah.
In a bid to reach a wider audience, Wada Na Todo is also releasing mobile-friendly video clips on the various sectors and themes covered in the report.

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