People's Union for Civil Liberties

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Civil rights activists take umbrage at Raje's stance

April, 2005
The Hindu
By Our Special Correspondent


JAIPUR, APRIL 10. Gandhian, Sarvodaya and civil rights organisations of Rajasthan today accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government of adopting an "undemocratic and anti-people" approach leading to continued injustice to Dalits, minorities and marginalised sections. The groups announced launching of a prolonged agitation to bring people&;s issues to the centre-stage of the State&;s politics.

The civil rights groups took exception to the refusal by the Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, to meet their representatives ever since she took over in December 2003 and denounced her style of functioning vis-a-vis the policy issues, instances of injustice and the demand for rights by Dalits and women. "Ms. Raje&;s behaviour smacks of her feudal mindset. She has no time to listen to the grievances of the poor and disadvantaged people," Sawai Singh, president of Rajasthan Samagra Seva Sangh, said.

The civil rights activists joined a dharna staged by the Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan - representing single women - here and announced their plan for a long-drawn-out agitation demanding the resignation of Ms. Raje with the observation that the presence of a "feudal Chief Minister" was not warranted in the democratic system. "Ms. Raje has no right to promote feudalism and insult the people by ignoring their real issues," said Satyanarain Singh of Nagrik Parishad.

Citing a number of instances when various organisations tried to approach Ms. Raje with their plea for action, the activists said the Chief Minister refused to meet villagers after the daylight murder of a Dalit youth in Pali district on March 19, gave no time to women activists protesting against the court verdicts in the Sati cases on January 31 and February 5, and declined to give appointment to the delegations after communal violence in several towns across the State.

Kavita Srivastava, general secretary of the State unit of People&;s Union for Civil Liberties, said the latest instance involved misbehaviour by the Chief Minister&;s Office with the activists of Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan. Five members of the organisation, who were called inside the Assembly on April 8, were kept waiting for over three hours and then wrongly told that Ms. Raje had left for New Delhi.

The officials allegedly insulted the single women by asking them to leave and work for promoting literacy among themselves before launching the agitation for an increase in their pension. "Ms. Raje then left for Nagpur on an invitation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief in the middle of the Assembly&;s budget session. This amounts to disrespect to the norms of democracy," said Ms. Srivastava.

The activist groups alleged that Ms. Raje had no interest in resolving the issues directly affecting the lives of citizens, and in particular those belong to Scheduled Castes and Tribes, minority communities, women and the poor. Requests for appointment to discuss the issues arising out of the new excise policy, exploitation of ground water by the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kaladera, and attack on cultural activists in Udaipur last year were simply turned down.

Even the noted Sarvodaya leader, Siddharaj Dhaddha, could not get an appointment with the Chief Minister while he wanted to discuss the problems of farmers. "Ms. Raje&;s attitude of paying no heed to people&;s problems displays her feudal arrogance. She has a whale of a time for watching movies, going to five-star hotels, attending the functions of the rich and making pleasure trips," Nisha Siddhu of the National Federation of Indian Women said.

The civil rights groups have decided to launch a signature campaign demanding Ms. Raje&;s immediate resignation and generate awareness among the people for boycotting her programmes during her visits to various districts. A demonstration will be held outside the Assembly here on April 13.









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