Shivani Singh, PRIA
BJP has come to power. It was able to harvest the anti-congress wave that was propelled by Anna’s movement and later by Aam Adami Party (AAP). AAP was in power in Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections by capturing people’s mandate by use of social media despite of lesser seats than BJP. They exhibited a different kind of governance which was proactive and non-bureaucratic. AAP party’s chief who resigned due to non-passing of Swaraj Bill showcased a governance model of 47 days in Delhi and was ready to fight the mighty and wealthy politicians of BJP and Congress in the Lok Sabha Elections 2014. The PM candidate of BJP contested from two places Vadodhara and Varnanasi fearing the fate they faced in Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections. But on the other hand the AAP’s chief fought only from Varanasi and undoubtedly gave a tough fight to the BJP’s PM candidate. But with the unaccountable money flowing towards the advertisement and promotion of one man in BJP, the party with meager resources was sure to lose. Politics concern us as PRIA was actively involved in giving platform to the urban poor during the formation of political party’s manifesto.
PRIA conducted many state level consultations across the intervened states under the urban poverty and reformed governance project. Now that BJP has come in power by securing majority seats it becomes important to view the space they have provided for urban poor and urban issues in their manifesto. These are as follows:
Neo-Middle Class – Meet their Aspirations
India has a large middle class with immense understanding, talent and purchasing power. In addition, a whole new class has emerged. Those who have risen from the category of poor and are yet to stabilize in the middle class, the ‘neo middle class’. This class needs proactive handholding. Having moved out of poverty, their aspirations have increased. They want amenities and services of a certain standard. They thus now feel that Government facilities and services are not up to the mark, and hence resort to the private sector for things like education, health and transport. This is obviously costly, putting the neo middle class into a daily dilemma. As more and more people move into this category, their expectations for better public services have to be met. We have to strengthen the Public Sector for providing efficient services to our citizens. In particular attention will be paid on government providing:
- Educational scholarships and educational facilities
- Medical insurance and quality healthcare services
- Middle-income housing
- Efficient public transport systems
Rural Areas – High Priority
Two-thirds of our people live in villages. Lack of amenities to live and opportunities to work, however, are restricting our rural life. Both these factors are the result of prolonged neglect. A full-fledged programme for ‘Rural Rejuvenation’ will be made and implemented which will comprise of integrated strategies for personal, economic and social well being of the villagers. Through the idea of Rurban, we will bring urban amenities to our rural areas, while retaining the soul of the village. Agriculture, rural development and poverty alleviation go hand in hand. Major thrust area for rural development would be to improve village level infrastructure in terms of roads, potable water, education, health, supply chain, electricity, broadband, job creation, security in rural areas and linkage to markets.
Urban Areas – High Growth Centres
More than one-third of our population is already living in our cities and towns. Soon, the urban areas will cover half our people. Moreover, our cities should no longer remain a reflection of poverty and bottlenecks. Rather they should become symbols of efficiency, speed and scale.
We will look at urbanisation as an Opportunity rather than a Threat.
- Major steps will be undertaken in Transport and Housing for ‘Urban Upliftment’ in India.
- We will initiate building 100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure – adhering to concepts like sustainability, walk to work etc, and focused on specialized domains.
- The approach to urban development will be based on integrated habitat development – building on concepts like Twin cities and Satellite towns.
- Upgrade existing urban centres, transitioning focus from basic infrastructure to public utility services like Waste and Water Management – for a clean and healthy city life.
- Cleanliness and Sanitation will be given priority – efficient Waste and Water management systems will be set up. Model towns will be identified for rolling out integrated waste management infrastructure.
- Wi-Fi facilities will be made available in public places and commercial centres.
- Urban poverty alleviation scheme would be a key thrust area.
- Use technology for scientific, strategic and long term town planning – including GIS based mapping.
- Build quality integrated Public Transport systems, discouraging usage of private vehicles.
BJP has recognized a new class middle class as ‘neo middle class’ hose who have risen from the category of poor and are yet to stabilize in the middle class, the ‘neo middle class’. This shows that they have not just divided the population among the rural and urban but have recognized a class that is in transition. Secondly by giving high priority to rural areas and have also recognized within itself the importance of ‘Rurban’ and have talked about bringing in urban amenities in these areas. Lastly BJP is planning to create urban areas as high growth centers by fueling it with modern technologies. Let’s keep the above promises made by BJP in mind hope they adhere to it during their tenure.