Naidu said that political parties should meet, think about this seriously and then move forward in the larger interest of the country
New Delhi: Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday asked political parties whether it was possible to make election manifestoes legally binding or not.
Naidu said that political parties should meet, think about this seriously and then move forward in the larger interest of the country.
“It is a real issue. What has been raised is an important issue. When we are in Opposition, we say that it should be enforceable.
“When we are on the ruling side, our position is different. So, all parties should apply their mind and then come to some conclusion,” he said.
The issue came up with Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) stressed on the need for changing election laws to make political parties accountable for their poll manifesto. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Upper House, the RJD MP claimed that the relevance of the election manifesto has been diminishing and now the political parties are releasing it just a day ahead of the polling.
He noted how election manifestoes were the subject of “serious discussions” by the central leadership of the parties before the documents were released, Jha said “hatred, grudge and divisive thoughts and disrespectful comments” had taken the “central stage in the declarations.”
Naidu asked other members including former prime minister and JDS member H.D. Deve Gowda about the possibility of this happening. “The only thing is that certain issues need to be discussed on the issue of election manifesto. That is my opinion,” Deve Gowda said.
Urging all political parties and the government for a wider consultation to make the document legally enforceable, the MP recalled how election manifestos of 1952, 1957 and 1962 of all political parties, including the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the Socialist party and the Congress Party “used to enlist doable things in their election documents and a serious discussion used to be held in the central leadership before releasing it to the public."
He added "Now, in the election manifesto, the hatred, grudge and divisive thoughts and disrespectful comments are taking a centre stage in these declarations."
Referring to a petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2015 wherein a bench of the then chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy had noted that since these manifestoes are not legally enforceable, the apex court bench cannot entertain the petition, Jha said in 2013 Justice Ranjan Gogogi and Justice Sathasivam Bench had observed that if the dignity and the respect of Indian democracy has to be kept intact, then these declarations have to be given a legal shape and the political parties should be made accountable.
"We need to have wider consultations on developing a policy so that the ground realities and issues related to the core issues of the public take centre stage in the political discussion," said the MP. Many members of the House are associated with the issue.
Noting that the issue was important, Naidu said "Political parties should meet to think about this issue seriously. And then move forward in the larger interest of the country. It is a real issue. What has been raised is a very important issue. And when we are in Opposition, we say it should be enforceable. When we are in positions, our position is different. All parties should apply their mind and then come to some conclusion. That's my appeal."