On Friday, the Civil Society Forum--a coalition of civic society organisations and individuals--released the manifeso for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections at an auditorium in Bengaluru.
The manifesto is being released ahead of the Assembly elections so that political parties can include the issues discussed in the people's manifesto in their individual manifestos.
"Our desire is to make a difference to the politics of the state by actively engaging in the prespective building of political manifestos in the coming elections of the state and later aim at working with the state and its agencies in shaping the goverance structures," said a member of the Civil Society Forum, while explaining the idea behind the exercise of releasing the manifesto.
"We intend to have quartely and department-wise interactions with the elected government to follow-up on the promises made by the parties and the commitments made on our manifesto," he added.
Recently, the Election Commission (EC) announced the date for the polls in Karnataka. While the voting will take place on May 12, the counting of votes will be held on May 15. The state Assembly has 224 seats.
Leaders of five political parties--Dinesh Gundu Rao of the Congress, S Suresh Kumar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), PGR Sindhia of the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)), GN Nagaraj of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) and Prithvi Reddy of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)--were supposed to take part at a discussion on the sidelines of the manifesto release programme.
However, representatives of the Congress and the BJP were conspicuous by their absence. Instead of AAP's Reddy, Ashwin Mahesh represented the party at the meet.
Talking at the event, Sindhia, who heads the JD(S) manifesto drafting committee, said that the party will respect the sentiments of the civic bodies if it comes to power. Sindhia, however, left the audience amused when he said that the JD(S) will run Bengaluru's BMTC bus service minus ticket system (free bus ride for all) if the party comes to power.
He added that his party supports the farmers and plans to give them more than the minimum support price (MSP) (as stated in the Swaminathan Report) for their crops.
Nagaraj slammed the rise of communalism in the country under the rule of the BJP. Babu Mathew, resident professor, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), moderated the discussion.