Resource centre on India's rural distress

Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections -Tikender Singh Panwar

It remains to be seen how many political parties pledge to protect the urban poor from eviction and homelessness and work for inclusive ‘Smart Cities’.

Over 30 civil society groups consisting of slum dwellers, civil society organisations, women groups, other groups working amongst the urban poor, disabled women groups, street vendors, housing rights activists and so on assembled in Delhi on February 28 to set a new discourse for 2019. This new discourse, called the ‘Voices of the Unheard’ in the cities intends to influence the 2019 general elections by advocating their demands to be (a) incorporated in the election manifestoes of the political parties and (b) during the elections getting their demand charter endorsed and signed by respective candidates when they visit their (poor people) habitations.

Enthused by the election campaign in the recently held Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, where the candidates were asked to endorse ‘zero eviction’ policy and sign it in front of the community people; there is some hope for the poor in the urban realm with the designed campaign.  

The way urbanisation is unfolding in the country is a big challenge. Urbanisation is projected as a panacea of the development challenges that we face as a nation. Cities are evolving at a rapid pace, especially Tier 2, 3 and Tier 4 cities. However, there has been less action at the inequality perpetuated, unjustness in design and unsustainable growth of the urban in India. Cities and their fast-changing characteristics, while beneficial for a minority privileged groups, are becoming increasingly detrimental to the majority marginalised sections that live, work and shape our Indian cities.

The February 28, convention chalked out the following demands which will become focus of actions at the local level to influence the elections in the cities. It may be emphasised that over 150 members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha are either directly or predominantly elected from the cities.

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