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The Ignored Election Issues

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15 Apr '24
7 min read


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Polling for the 18th Lok Sabha election will begin on April 19, 2024, and it will be conducted in 7 phases to elect representatives in 543 seats across the country.

In the first phase, on April 19, 2024, elections will be held for 102 Lok Sabha seats across 21 states and Union Territories. The remaining phases will be held on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 26, and June 1.

Moreover, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim will also hold simultaneous assembly polls alongside the Lok Sabha polls, and the stakes for both the ruling and opposition parties are sky-high in these states.

In the biggest festival of democracy, people would determine the tussle between the parties to gain control of Delhi, and they would vote for that party whose "poll promises" they liked the most or whose election manifesto impressed them essentially.

Most people, except a select few, do not read the political parties' election manifestos. Of those who do so, very few analyse them for others.

Those who do not read remain mostly oblivious to the contents of the manifestoes or gather sporadic information from random sources.

From several freebies to guaranteed jobs, the parties have addressed various issues and made "promises" galore.

However, at this juncture, I have a question: are these the only issues that need to be addressed during elections, or did the political parties miss out on a few other important issues?

The silence of all the parties on three burning issues has taken me by surprise, making me wonder if (at all) the parties and our future leaders are futuristic visionaries.

Manifestos Skip Climate Change

The first issue I strongly feel should always be addressed in the manifestos is climate change and environmental pollution.

Climate change affects everyone, regardless of caste, creed, religion, or political affiliation. Hence, if voted to power, the political parties should share a roadmap and a vision for tackling the issue. 

Our leaders speak at summits and conferences and tell us how to fight climate change and pollution. Then why are their views and suggestions never reflected in their election manifestos, or why is this issue not considered a poll issue?

"There are environmental laws and laws against pollution. But these are being flouted by the people in authority themselves," feels Mriganka Das of Fridays For Future, Guwahati.

"These laws, in their current form, do not save the environment. The laws are insufficient and don't cover everything that is going on right now," Das added.

"Any political party that is serious about fighting environmental pollution would first do away with banners and posters. Banners and posters are mostly made of non-biodegradable substances. These posters only add to the plastic pollution," Das further said.

"And after the rallies are over, the playgrounds where these rallies are mostly held are full of leftovers that add to the pollution. No party or candidate even spares a thought about cleaning the same," Das added.

Issues Related To LGBTQ+ Community

The second most important issue, which I feel should be a poll issue and always make its way into the manifestos, is issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community.

It is not that political parties don't talk about the LGBTQ+ community. However, the noise is less than required.

In its 2024 poll manifesto, the Congress announced civil unions between couples belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. Even the CPI (M), in its manifesto, promised: "legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples similar to marriage—and legislations on similar lines as the Special Marriage Act, 1954, so that the partner can be listed as a dependent for inheritance and alimony in case of divorce, etc." 

But the big question is, are these promises real, or are they being declared to woo the community for the votes? I am asking this because the Supreme Court last year rejected pleas seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriages and added that it was beyond the judiciary's remit. Such a law has to be framed by Parliament. 

And when we talk about LGBTQ+, marriage is not the only thing bothering the community, and there is more to it than what the eye meets.

It is pertinent to mention here that the CPI(M), in its manifesto, also backed a comprehensive anti-discriminatory Bill covering LGBTQ+, reservation in education institutions and employment, and measures to address bullying, violence, and harassment of gender non-conforming and LGBTQ+ students, staff, and teachers in educational spaces. And the BJP, in its manifesto, declared that the 'transgender community will now be covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.'

These are noble announcements, and they could be game changers only if implemented and followed in the true sense. 

"Whoever comes to power, they should at least consider queer issues, if not make them an agenda," says Guwahati-based LGBTQ+ activist Shivlal Gautam.

"Some leaders and parties sometimes give a tokenistic statement; however, they don't get implemented on the ground. And some governments are directly against the community," he added.

"There should be a state-run shelter home for the community people who don't have a place to live, as it is not at all in our or anyone's capacity to run a shelter home all on their own. There are many issues which can be fixed and taken care of only by the government," he added.

Manifestoes Ignoring Child Issues

Children are a country's future, yet nothing or significantly less is said and discussed in the election manifestos. Their rights are often overlooked—the question is WHY?

"The political parties mostly ignore children and their rights as they don't vote," says UTSAH executive director Miguel Das Queah.

"There are many issues surrounding children, from child sexual abuse to infant mortality rate, and the numbers are only increasing. A different narrative can be created, and the political parties must march ahead, working and planning on these issues," he added.

"However, only writing about them in the poll and election manifestos won't work. These should be implemented on the ground," Queah further said.

On numerous occasions, children from across the nation have approached political leaders and parties with a charter of their demands, hoping that they would be heard. However, on most occasions, they have been brushed aside.

As per several media reports, the demands of charters mainly included protection from violence in all forms, access to affordable healthcare and nutritious food, no discrimination based on class, caste, gender, religion, or other grounds, and quality and affordable education for all children.

Other demands include adequate resources for improving educational institutions' infrastructure and human resources, safe drinking water and proper sanitation for all families, and safe spaces for children to play, prosper, and grow.

The charter also demanded respect for the rights of the differently abled and active measures to ensure they are provided adequate rehabilitative and social support to live a dignified life.

One must remember that children are the future electors and decision-makers; their opinions and recommendations are also important, and political parties must heed their demands.

In The Conclusion

Elections in India are fought on several issues and grounds. While the most obvious issues are known, some are seldom discussed. 

A political party's manifesto reveals its vision for the next five years and sets the tone for the following polls. Apart from the immediate and burning issues, a manifesto must also reveal the party's vision on issues that often get left out.

I hope that the political parties will address what has been missed this year in their election manifestos next year. And the address will not be merely tokenistic.

Category : World


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Written by Partha Prawal

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Guwahati based journalist, who is also a published author