By Swati Sharma, Programme Officer, PRIA
Since last two decades, PRIA’s work in strengthening local self-governance institutions has been guided by the need to promote people-centered and people managed development. Over the years, experiences in working on programs to strengthen city governance have also shown that the presence of competent and appropriate candidates is a critical condition for good governance. Also, participation of citizens including women and the marginalized sections of the society, in the process of electing representatives is vital for ensuring accountable and responsive city governance system. The need to promote the engagement of aware and informed citizens in the process of municipal elections and to plan awareness campaigns prior to the elections is crucial to build accountable and efficient city governance systems.
Municipal elections being the foundation of deepening democracy and strengthening local governance in every city, PRIA has started Pre Elections Voters Awareness Campaign in Bihar for Municipal Elections being conducted on May 16th. The project is expected to create a buzz in the state on developmental and poverty issues among the citizens and persuade them to contribute in elections by selecting a capable candidate and vote for him/her. The specific focus of the project is to increase the voter’s percentage, increase the percentage of women voters (especially SC/ST/OBC). The project will aim to reach to maximum number of people through partnering with maximum number of CSOs/CBOs/NGOs operating in various cities. An initial State level consultation was conducted in Patna which was attended by representatives from CSOs, NGOs, Associations, Politics, Academia, Community etc. belonging to different cities of the state. The intervention will be carried out intensively in five cities namely Patna, Muzzaffarpur, Chhapra, Bodhgaya and Bihar Sharif. City level consultations have been successfully conducted in the respective cities and the campaign on elections have already initiated with full vigour.