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Explained: What Is BJP’s Election Manifesto Promising Bihar?

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The BJP wing has come up with an election manifesto that has a rather interesting list of promises for the upcoming Bihar state assembly elections. How we wish the actual result of the political parties after 5 years would even remotely resemble their election manifesto.

Here’s a look into the election manifesto and an attempt to explore the work by the BJP in Bihar for 5 years. We will examine the five major highlights from the 11 points election manifesto of BJP for Bihar released by the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.

BJP Manifesto Launch. Photo: Indian Express

Give Vote, Get Vaccine!

The free covid vaccinations have been the crown jewel to the election campaign of the BJP wing in the run-up to the state elections. BJP is not leaving a single stone unturned to utilize the perfect position to be able to make these promises. The command at the Center’s command gives BJP almost free reigns in deciding the price and distribution of the vaccinations whenever a successful one is made. How ethical is this promise and how legally strong is it? Let’s take a look.

At a time, when hundreds in the country, including frontline health workers, are losing their lives every day due to the pandemic, how ethical is it to use vaccinations as a political gimmick? Does it suit the party at power to stoop to the level of claiming that a single state would be the get the vaccinations for free with utter disregard for equitable distribution based on need and not dependent on whether the state is up for elections?

It’s quite a political spectacle to make such a claim which considering its proximity to elections cannot remotely be considered as genuine concern for the state because if there would have been any, Bihar would have seen some actual development in the five years the BJP alliance ruled.

If genuine concern for the people of Bihar was indeed the aim, why make such an announcement only when it’s this close to elections?

Surely, if the sentiment is all that’s on the table at present considering the fact a successful vaccine can’t be seen in the immediate future as well, why not express that sentiment before? Why not tell the people of Bihar on the very first day that Bihar experienced the wrath of the pandemic that the party would sponsor free vaccines in the state? Why not do it a month later? Why not do it at any other time but a week before the elections?

While the opposition is accused of seeing propaganda where there isn’t any, the government at power expects us to believe their politics can exist without the same. Madhya Pradesh has made the same promises as it goes to elections next early November. If yes, how long will this gimmick sustain? Or to say it in the words of Rahul Gandhi-

 “GOI just announced India’s Covid access strategy. Kindly refer to the state-wise election schedule to know when will you get it, along with a hoard of false promises.”

Coming to the legal aspect, according to the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the promise has the green light. While crores are spent on political advertising and election campaigning, the same money is not made available when the country is in dire need of it.

If the PM ‘Cares’, it’s time the party he represents expresses it clearly. And there cannot be a better time to do so.

The Promise Of ‘New Jobs’ With No Talk Of The Lost Old Ones

The Janata Dal-United and BJP alliance led by Nitish Kumar is set to contest the 2020 elections again with the promise of 19 lakh new jobs. Looking at the data from last year, let’s determine the probability of such a claim. In the five year term that BJP had the reigns of Bihar, the one thing that did see a rise is the unemployment rate. Even if we consider the unforeseen pandemic which affected the whole of India, Bihar still underperformed in terms of employment in comparison to other Indian states.

Bihar, which is primarily dependent on agriculture for the economy has been promised 19 lakh new jobs by the very party that has farmers out on the streets protesting against the Farmer Bills.

Farmers’ protest. Image source: Twitter

They say, judge an action not by its result but by its intent. Even in that context, I fail to see the justification and validity of BJP being a considerate ally to the farmers on one side and turning a deaf ear to thousands of farmers the very next moment.

40% Teacher Vacancies

Let’s examine the third promise that is the creation of 3 lakhs teachers positions. Bihar at present faces a 40% vacancy in government staff for educational institutions. There are jobs that do need to be created but simply exist as a result of the inability of the present ruling government to fill those job vacancies. Teachers qualified for these jobs exist. The job vacancies already exist. The simple question arises.

How is the fact that ‘thousands of jobs were not filled by the government for over five years’ a highlight that is paraded around in election manifestos when instead, it is a clear reminder of the government’s fallacies in the first place.

Crticisers are accused of seeing the glass half empty, how does one see a glass that is empty but merely offers an illusion of being full? That’s called a mirage, something our political parties have quite a hand for successfully creating. It’s time our focus shifted away from the construction of Ram Mandir to the development and law and order in his country and judge the present government’s performance on parameters that affect the country on a real-time basis.

Promises like the creation of 1 lakh jobs in the health sector and providing homes for 30 lakh people have been made in the manifesto. While one sincerely hopes for these promises to come true, one is also reminded of the sad reality that politics in our country has long been synonymous with fake long-shot promises. It’s time that changes and Bihar becomes the state leading that change.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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