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An Appeal in the context of elections 2019

Elections to Lok Sabha and some Vidhan Sabhas are taking place at a time when the country is passing through a period of grave crisis. Besides leading to the formation of a new government, outcomes of the current elections will have a deep impact on the future shape of the Indian society, nature of our democratic system as well as the lives and livelihoods of the masses of our country.

Economic inequalities are steadily assuming dangerous proportions. 73 per cent of the total wealth created in 2018 has been appropriated by the super rich constituting only one per cent of our country’s population. Property owned by the bottom half of the population of the country is the same as that owned by only nine super rich persons. India remains at the 103th position among 119 countries in world hunger index. India’s unemployment situation is the worst ever during the last 45 years. Privatization of basic services like education and health has put these beyond the reach of common people. Farmers feeding the country’s population continue to commit suicide on a regular basis. Large scale destruction of the natural environment has been the inevitable consequence of attempts to satisfy the greed of Indian and foreign companies under the pretext of development. Six out of ten most polluted large cities of the world are in India. Corporate plunder of natural resources like land, forests, mines and water is accompanied by involuntary and coercive displacement of adivasis, dalits and peasants from their land and livelihood. People, raising their voices against and democratically resisting such notions of development and accompanying coercive measures, have been subjected to more intensified state repression. The concept of corruption has evolved immensely over time in terms of its nature, quality and quantity. Earlier, it used to refer to bribes paid to government functionaries. In contemporary times, lakhs of crores of rupees get swindled through government decisions propelled by a new nexus of corporate, politicians and top bureaucracy. Parliament has been reduced to a club of the rich. In a planned and deliberate manner these fundamental questions, which are of vital importance to the common people, have been excluded from the dominant political narratives at the time of elections. On the other hand, the corporate controlled media has been trying to escalate divisive, hate based and aggressive sentiments among people in a cunningly designed pattern in order to divert their attention from their basic issues and the failure of the state to address those. Sustained attempts are being made to mislead people and effectively manipulate their opinion in favor of power structures.

Diversity is the soul of India. But, some persons and forces are trying to forcibly impose a particular religion, culture and language on others in the name of cultural nationalism. Instances of mob lynching are on the rise with the tacit support of the state. Culture of hatred, intolerance and violence has led to the murder of a number of intellectuals, writers and media persons. Minorities and dalits have been the worst victims of such a cultural onslaught. Religious obscurantism, bigotry, superstitious belief systems, antifeminist ideas and casteist ideology are propagated with active government encouragement. Autonomy of constitutional institutions are continuously eroded. Ill conceived foreign policy has led a steady decline in our relations with neighboring countries. There has been a deliberate attempt to create war hysteria in the country. The name of the armed forces is being misused for political gains. Draconian laws and authoritarian tactics are strangely portrayed as essential requirements for the realization of national interests. Those who question and differ are branded as anti nationals. By squeezing the space for democratic dissent, a situation worse than the period of emergency has emerged during the last five years.

In the context of the above, we appeal to all individuals who value democracy and diversity to thoughtfully consider the grave political situation prevailing in the country and to resolve to defeat pro corporate, communal, casteist, misogynist, undemocratic and hate mongering political forces in the current elections. We must cast our votes only after considering the stands taken by different political parties and candidates on issues like poverty, inequality, unemployment, agrarian distress, price rise, corruption, etc. Let us refuse to be trapped by the sinister propaganda campaign designed to cloud our consciousness and intelligently exercise our franchise to strengthen democracy, secularism and the values enshrined in our constitution with a view to making progress towards a participatory and egalitarian society.

Prafulla Samantara, President, Lokshakti Abhiyan, Odisha/ Green Nobel Winner,

Rabi Das, Senior Journalist, Bhubaneswar, Odisha,

Prof. Radhamohan, Ex. Information Commissioner, Odisha,

Dr. Birendra Nayak, Ex. Professor, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar,

Asutosh Parida, Scientist & Poet,

Prof. Dhaneswar Sahu,

Dr. Fakir Charan Rout, Rourkela,

Prof. Golakh Bihari Nath,

Aswini Mishra, Ex. Secretary, Odisha Sahitya Academy,

Prof. Bijay Bahidar,

Prof, Nilamani Sahu,

Prof. Dambarudhar Behera,

Biswapriya Kanungo, Human Right Activist,

Sudhir Pattnayak,

Tapan Mishra, Ex. President, Ravenshaw College, Cuttack,

N, Ahammed, Lawyer, Nawrangpur,

Dr. Samir Ranjan, Poet,

Dr, Sk. Sahwanwaz Islam, Lecturer of Law,

Lenin Kumar, Poet,

Sailen  Routray, Writer,

Saroj, Editor, Anwesha,

Rakshyakar, Trade Union Leader, Jharsuguda,

Prof. Ramesh Chandra Singh,

Bijay Upadhyay, Writer,

Premananda Khatual, Poet,

Satrujit, Writer & Journalist,

Prasanta Jena, Lawyer,

Mruganka  Pattnayak, Lawyer,

Ranjana Padhi, Democratic Right Activist,

Debendra Sutar, Editor. Baigyanik Charcha,

Kulamani Jena, Writer/Poet,

Tusharkant, Columnist,

Samir Sarkar, Democratic Right Activist,

Srimant Mohanty, Political-Social Activist,

Samir Sethy, Ex. Administrator, New Delhi,

Debaranjan, Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakshya Samiti(GASS),

Kunja Upadhyay, Writer,

Dhirendra Panda, Huma Right Activist,

Narendra Mohanty, Convener, INSAF/Campaign Against Fabricated Cases,Odisha,

Sahasransh Hota, Lawyer, Rourkela,

Pradeep Sahu, Social Activist,

Anna Kujur, Aathkosia Sangathan, Sundargarh,

Raja Suresh, Secretary, Humanist- Rationalist Organisation, Odisha,

Sandhya Devi, Ekta Parishad Trust, Banapur,

Basanta Majhi, Poet,

Ananta, Lokmukti Sangathan, Jharsuguda,

Mahammed Sukur, Rationalist,

Subash Chandra Sahu, Lawyer,

Bijay Kumar Panda, Lawyer,

Anil Ekka, Mulavasi- Adivasi Sangathan, Sundargarh,

Kumar Hasan, Writer & Journalist, Sambalpur,

Sandeep Pattnayak, Social Activist/Researcher,

Prakash Kumar Samantasinghar, RTI Activist & Others

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