Group raises key queries

Shillong, Feb. 14: People's Proclamation, an open manifesto released for the first time by Poor People's War, a group of civil society members, has raised certain questions for the electorate ahead of the February 23 Assembly elections in Meghalaya.

"How do we change the present scheme of loot and exploitation? Do we simply change the government and change faces of the rulers or do we work towards a change in the system which has allowed this rot to set in?" the manifesto said.

"What we need is construction of a new progressive and transformative vision that brings together various struggles of working masses," it asserted.

The manifesto, which was released by Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) or Poor People's War, is "an attempt towards raising a progressive challenge to the current political structure of Meghalaya".

Various issues have been highlighted in the manifesto in the run-up to the elections.

In its preamble, the manifesto outlines what the group is looking forward to. These include rebuilding democracy and politics by transferring power to the poor, restructuring the political system by institutionalising decentralised participatory democracy, more social and human rights and not commodification of human needs.

It also calls for an end to all forms of social oppression.

The manifesto also envisages a real environmental policy and action to stand against environment's exploitation. The other demands are sovereignty over natural resources as a prerequisite for the emancipation from neo-colonial domination and the right to food.

Development of knowledge and technology for all, besides decolonisation of people and cultures through education and economic development that is progressive and not only profitable, are among other demands.

The manifesto also wants to replace economy based on exploitation of labour and loot of natural resources with a holistic one that ensures ecological sustainability, egalitarianism and full employment.

Moreover, the manifesto seeks to ensure that there is "no landless" indigenous person in the state while calling for strengthening of the Land Transfer Act to stop inter and intra-community alienation of land.

On environment, the manifesto calls for a final moratorium on uranium mining and nuclear-based industry.

It also seeks immediate setting up of Meghalaya Agricultural Commission to investigate and recommend policies for agrarian crisis where at least one-third of the membership of the commission should be drawn from small and marginal farmers.

The group also wants the legislators to be declared as Public Authority under RTI Act, 2005 where annual social audit of the MLA scheme should take place.

The manifesto sought immediate demarcation of state boundaries through a new survey and community referendum overseen by a Rajya Sabha committee.

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