Political parties give slum-dwellers’ meet royal ignore

November 25th, 2008 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) The aim behind organising an interaction between Delhi’s slum dwellers and candidates contesting the Delhi assembly elections was to enable the poor to voice their concerns. But with no-show from the political parties, it turned out to be a monologue of sorts.According to Bharat Singh, convener of the Alliance for People’s Rights (APR) that organised the interaction, the political parties’ no-show sent a loud and clear message.

“The meet was organised to facilitate an interaction between Delhi’s voiceless and the election candidates so that people’s demands can be heard. But with hardly any attendance from the political parties, it just shows that they don’t care for the common man,” Singh told IANS.

Nearly 500 people from around 200 slums come together, in a culmination of awareness and mobilisation drives the APR conducted to make Delhi’s slum and resettlement colony dwellers aware of their rights as voters and make political parties accountable to them.

And there were many like Shakina Begum, Akbari and Sadhna who came all the way from Shadipur in west Delhi with their children in tow to voice their concerns and demand their rights from the political representatives.

“Water is the biggest problem in our area. We get water just once a day, which makes life a challenge, and women are the biggest sufferers since we have to look after the household chores,” Begum, in her 40s, told IANS.

“Cleanliness is also an issue,” Sadhna said.

“The drains overflow whenever there is a light rainfall and they are almost never cleaned. The whole place stinks,” she added.

For Muliya Devi of the Samaypur Badli industrial area, the issues are not very different. Electricity, she said, was another important issue.

“We pay our bills on time but have to put up with six to seven hours of power cuts everyday. Then schools are so far away from our colony. For a widow like me who has to go to work, it becomes difficult to send my small kids to school alone so far everyday,” Devi said.

Residents of Mangolpuri in east Delhi were concerned about their slum being razed once the elections are over.

“We don’t want to be thrown out from our homes onto the road. We need a proper roof over our heads,” Bindu Jindal of Mangolpuri said.

And price rise was the biggest issue of all.

“With an earning of just Rs.1,200-1,500 per month, how can we afford to pay Rs.50 for a common vegetable like tomatoes? Our lives have become so difficult,” rued Sharda Misra of Mangolpuri.

Eager to put forth their problems, Begum said: “We would like to tell the politicians that this time we will not fall for their empty promises. We will vote for them only after they start taking initiatives for us”.

Sadly though, there was hardly anyone except themselves to hear their woes.

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