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99 Yatra
NGOs decide to field candidates
17 October 2007

Ahmdabad:NO more mere discussions on polity and blaming the government for everything that goes wrong in the State. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the State are now gearing up to pro-actively participate in the electoral process to ensure the “people’s issues” are also addressed in the political mechanism.
While Marg, an Ahmedabad based NGO, is planning to field its candidates to address the issues confronting the KADAM (Koli, Adivasi, Dalit, Agariya and Muslim) communities across Kutch and North Gujarat, Lok Sangharsh Morcha is fielding at least four candidates in Surat and Narmada districts.

Not only the NGOs are directly contesting elections, but they are also making submissions to the various political parties regarding what is being perceived as ‘people’s demands,’ to be incorporated in their election manifesto. Some activists are also talking about rendering issue-based support to candidates fielded by political parties.

Lalji Desai from Marg said that the organisation has plans to take out KADAM Ekta Yatra across various districts. “We shall also be fielding ‘people’s candidates’ in Rapar and Bhuj in Kutch, apart from one or two in Surendranagar and in Dangs, who will contest the election as independent KADAM candidates,” he said.

“We are also vigilant about the developments in North Gujarat,” he added. “This step has more to do with addressing the issues faced by the communities than catering to any latent political ambition,” Desai added. Similarly, in South Gujarat, Lok Sangharsh Morcha (LSM) is fielding its candidates in Uchchal Nijar, Songarh and Mangrol constituencies in Surat and Sagbara constituency in Narmada distrct. Ambarish Rai from LSM pointed out that the candidates will be contesting under the banner of LSM, which is a people’s organisation.

“LSM is no way a political outfit, but we feel that no one in the State has ever addressed the issues of tribal populace and to do so, the people need to have there own candidates, whom we shall field,” Rai said, adding that the candidates fielded by LSM will contest as independent candidates. Meanwhile, a panel of activists including Digant Ojha, Sudarshan Iyenger and Vidyut Joshi has been drafting a charter of demands, which is to be given to both the major political parties in the State for incorporation in their election manifesto.

The panel had earlier met various groups from all over the State and held a series of workshops across Gujarat to arrive at the demands. Similar set of demands pertaining to the women issues are being presented by Ila Pathak of AWAG as well. “Some of us will also provide issue-based support to parties and candidates in this election,’’ said noted activist Shukdev Patel. “Prohibition, farmers issues and the plight of the communities living in the coastal areas etc. have the potential to come up as election issues and we will support any candidate, who tries to address these issues,” Patel added.

Fr Cedric Prakash too echoed similar tunes and said that a section of NGOs will be busy in mobilising public opining and generate awareness about the entire electoral process among the marginalised groups. “Once the names of candidates are announced, we might also decide to support some candidates more openly as well,’’ he added.

Courtesy: Ahmedabad Newsline - Ahmedabad,India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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