Most right thinking people have been deeply perturbed by the developments in the state political scenario leading up to the election. The developments during the campaign period has been equally disturbing marked as it has been by massive illegal use of money power and methods to garner votes by almost all main stream political parties. In this context, the out come of the polls on May 16th doesn't hold much promise for the state's future as such. With most serious candidates having invested by conservative accounts several crores of unaccounted for money in their effort to win the election, one can not expect any of them to work for the people's welfare in good faith sacrificing their personal interest and the interest of the funding agencies. The civil society has been completely sidelined in the process and the feeble attempts of various groups such as Election Watch has had very little impact on the process and the same is likely to be the case post-May 16th in terms of governance and development. In summary, we have reached the nadir of political life in post-Independence Orissa as far as probity, ethics and values in public life is concerned.
In this context the need of the hour is serious introspection by all those who agree with the above analysis and come up with a blue print for an alternative road map for the state going forward. The younger generation certainly holds the key to future developments in the state including the political processes which holds the key. The intelligentsia which by its record breaking low turn-out in urban centers like Bhubaneswar and Cuttack has once again demonstrated how apathetic or frustrated it is with the current scenario. Even Gandhiji had observed almost a century back that the 'Intellectual Apathy' of the elite was the greatest danger to the nation in pre-independence India and the same holds good even today.
In this context, one feels that the need of the hour is to try and bring together all the disparate forums, coalitions, civil society organisations, thinking individuals, youth leaders together to discuss and debate and find a way forward. While many of us in different forums, groups, organisations are equally concerned about the current developments, no one seems to be prepared to bell the cat so to say. Even those who are willing do not seem to have the wherewithal to act. Only by creating a larger umbrella and united front can we have a say and save the future of the state and our children. Unless we act now, I feel future generations with not forgive us.
Many courageous individuals have tried to stem the tide by joining the electoral battle as independents. Although their efforts have been overshadowed by massive onslaught of money power of mainstream parties, they do hold out some hope for the future. Many of them have tried to make Development the central agenda rather than ideology, caste, religion or other diversionary issues.
In this context we feel that there is crying need for a convention to discuss the following and find a concrete action plan for the future:
1. What is the current political scenario in the state 2. What are the likely outcomes of the current election and its implication for the state's future 3. How an alternative political agenda can be created 4. How an alternative political leadership be groomed and created 5. How can the development agenda take center-stage in the political arena
If you are concerned and agree with the above then come join us on the 14th May ,10am at Redcross Bhavan for a day long convention. Lets together herald a new future for our much maligned and much-neglected homeland.
INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC FRONT
It is a good initiative and such kind of appeals should carry the name of the person representing this new forum - Independent Democratic Forum - at the end of the message.
It is certainly a step to carry forward the initiatives take up by the forums like Election Watch, Janata Vikas Manch (JVM) and all such kinds of platforms.
It will be wrong to say, "the feeble attempts of various groups such as Election Watch has had very little impact on the process". The initiatives taken by Election Watch and JVM's six months long excercise to evolve a people's manifesto have reached to more than ten lakhs people both through web and traditional media.
JVM during its Jan Vikas Yatra, in the first phase of poll, to Balasore and Phulbani districts have found that these kind of initiatives have reached to the people and made a tangile impact at the thinking level of the people. The JVM's people manifesto focussing on the social change, secularism, youth and industry was very well taken by the people.
The current controversy of the state government granting mining lease to Posco violating the poll norms vindicates JVM's People's Manifesto that all the documents related to MoU should be made public and the political parties should not do politics on the industrial projects to grab power. Please refer to Industry secton of the manifesto.
It has been agreed by one and all that the social change can be possible only if centry-old caste system is demolished and the estabilished social order comes forward for the development of SCs and STs. The social change will certainly take time as it has been witnessed in Tamil Nadu and UP that it is a long drawn battle. In short, the change of mindset is a pre-condition for the direction-oriented action.
Moreover, it is too early to judge whether these initiatives have really made an impact or not. The state and central government is yet be formed. And, they will need at leat 100 days to settle down. Then, their action can be judged whether they are considering the people's initiatives in the governance or not.
Certainly, a lot has to change. But, this change can be possible only if the good initiatives taken by the forums are duely identified and the democratic process is further intensified to strengthen the secular culture in the state which will lead to a holistic development.
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