MP panchayat polls trigger demand for inclusion of children's issues in manifestos


By Sundeep Pouranik Bhopal, June 19 : The people of Madhya Pradesh have demanded that both the BJP and the Congress include issues concerning children and women in their manifestos for the upcoming urban body elections which will be held simultaneously with panchayat elections in the state. Children are not entitled to vote in elections so they are not considered a votebank for the political parties but the issues concerning them pose a grave challenge. The panchayat elections are non-party based while urban body elections are held on a party basis. Both the BJP and the Congress will release their manifestos for the urban body elections and preparations are going on in full swing. The people in Madhya Pradesh have demanded that issues concerning children and women should be given equal importance by both the parties in their manifestos. Several children and women's rights organisations are holding deliberations on issues related to children and women. The Child Rights Observatory (CRO) in Madhya Pradesh works in collaboration with Unicef, a global organisation working for the welfare of children. This organisation has prepared a document on the problems faced by children and sent it to both the BJP and the Congress. This document includes the budget allocated for children, ending violence, improving education especially learning disorders, water and sanitation, nutrition, health and vaccination. A total of 24 points have been put forward. Nirmala Buch, the CRO President and former State Chief Secretary, has sent this 24-point document to the office bearers of both the parties. This document states that all municipalities and panchayats must allocate at least 30 per cent of the state budget for children and women to ensure the necessary social infrastructure. The document advocates the complete abolition of child marriages and keeping a check on such incidents. The document underlines the serious challenge of compensating for the loss of the learning instinct in children due to Covid-19 for which the government and women and child rights organisations must work together. The other points discussed by CRO includes that all schools should be prepared to conduct bridge courses for at least three months. Apart from this, proper arrangements will be made to eradicate open defecation and disposal of garbage. Local self-government institutions must work for a malnutrition-free community by mobilising formal and informal committees, and self-help groups to increase community participation. Welcoming the CRO's initiative, Ajay Singh Yadav, Vice-President, Congress Media Cell, said, "Children are the future of our society as well as the country. Finding solutions to their problems is also the responsibility of a party about which the Congress is extremely serious. That is why we have formed the Bal Congress whose committees have been constituted at the district level and suggestions are also being sought from the Bal Congress. Problems faced by children are also being listed which will be included in our party manifesto." Lauding the initiative by CRO, BJP spokesperson Neha Bagga said, "The Madhya Pradesh government is the first state government in the country which has allocated a separate budget provision for children. Along with this Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has launched a special campaign for providing better facilities to the children at Anganwadi centres. Public participation is being widely promoted." The Chief Minister himself volunteered to collect toys for children in a cart for which people participated in large numbers. On the one hand, while the BJP government is paying special attention to children, on the other hand it is reaching out to the Anganwadi centres. Founder of tribal organisation JAYS (Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti) and Congress MLA, Hiralal Alawa also lauded this initiative, saying that children are the future of the country. "The children must be provided better facilities and rights. Therefore it is necessary for political parties to include issues concerning children and women in their manifestos. This initiative is a welcome step." /IANS


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