Congress crowdsources Rajasthan manifesto for Vidhan Sabha polls; employment, healthcare on voters' minds

Unlike the Congress' Madhya Pradesh manifesto, Lord Ram is unlikely to figure in the Congress’ Rajasthan manifesto. Rajasthan’s voters have more mundane and personal concerns: employment, healthcare and effective implementation of welfare policies. As was revealed in responses to the party’s “Jan Ghoshna Patra” campaign on social media, which was crowdsourced from voters.

As part of the campaign, state Congress president Sachin Pilot tweeted: ‘Aap Rajasthan mein aane wali Congress se kya chahte hain? (What do you expect from the incoming Congress government?)’ The tweet gave a mobile number to which people could send suggestions using WhatsApp. Party officials said they received more than 95,000 suggestions between 3 and 23 November.

File image of Congress leader Sachin Pilot. AFP

File image of Congress leader Sachin Pilot. AFP

“We have classified the suggestions into various categories and prepared a draft which will be considered while preparing the manifesto,” said Naresh Dadhich, member, Congress Election Manifesto Committee. “Many messages were complaints from government employees on issues that they want resolved. For example, about 26,000 teachers were recently selected for state schools but there has been no forward movement. Some teachers had been absorbed during Ashok Gehlot’s tenure, but their service conditions had some issues which are yet to be resolved. Similarly, some asked that the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations be implemented from 1 January, 2016, instead of 1 January, 2017. Different sectors have different problems, like those employed on contractual basis, that have not been resolved for five years, which they are bringing to us.”

Plenty of responses raised the familiar issues of loan waiver and reduction in electricity bills of farmers. Also included were some less familiar ones, like animals roaming free on the roads. “There are problems which we are not even aware of,” said Dadhich. “The most common complaints are from government employees and youth demanding employment. But that too is divided into sub-categories. For example, students selected for the Rajasthan Public Service Commission are facing some unresolved issues”.

Suggestions on education, health, and agriculture also figure in the replies, though employment generation remains the key concern. “We received several messages regarding poor implementation of state and central government schemes,” said Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma, advocate and member of manifesto committee. “Availability of medicines and ration for instance”. Respondents also pointed out that the skill development centre is not functioning properly.

Other welfare schemes like Bhamashah have several shortcomings that need to be addressed. For example, the scheme has a special provision for urban poor, with a caveat that a city cannot have more than 69 percent urban poor. That figure has not been re-evaluated since it was first announced five years ago. As a result, many urban poor people are not receiving benefits of the scheme. “There is no system for revision of the list,” Dadhich said.

Meanwhile, a Twitter war is raging regarding the number of jobs created by the BJP government. Sachin Pilot claimed only two lakh new jobs were created. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted that 44 lakh jobs have been provided. “We have also skilled about 15 lakh youth, that is also a way of job creation,” Raje further tweeted.

However, experts point out that a lack of credible and up-to-date data raises doubts on government’s claims. “Both the central and the state government have not done well on job creation,” said Nesar Ahmed, coordinator, Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre. State BJP spokesperson Vimal Katiyar countered, “It is not the people but the Congress that is blaming us for non-implementation of policy. Go out and speak to people, they will tell you how much work is done and how much effort we have put in so that people can live with self-respect”.

The Congress has also launched a website seeking suggestions from people across the country for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2018 20:35:27 IST

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