Political parties in India are reaching out to citizens to understand issues facing them in order to set their election agenda.
Several political parties have signed up with Change.org, an online petition platform, to crowd source suggestions for their election manifestos.
Rajeev Gowda from the Congress, Rajeev Chandrasekhar from the BJP, and TKS Elangovan from the DMK have signed up as verified “decision makers” on Change.org seeking help from citizens in building a vision for general elections 2019.
While politicians such as Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Delhi Minister Satyender Jain and Member of Parliament Tathagatha Satpathy have been using Change.org to understand citizens’ issues and come up with initiatives for a while now, for political parties it is a first to approach the website to set their election manifestos.
In December 2018, Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Atishi, who is contesting from the East Delhi constituency, signed up and reached out to her constituents to help her build a vision for East Delhi through her initiative “East Delhi Dialogues”.
The people of the area responded with an overwhelming 40 petitions addressed to Atishi.
Active citizens’ participation can be gauged from the fact that since January, more than 170 petitions have been put on the website on issues ranging from food adulteration to education, child rights, environment and more ideas continue to come in. Over 130 petitions focus only on issues concerning the armed forces, youth and technology.
Ideas related to every issue will be compiled, thrashed and then forwarded to every party’s election manifesto team for consideration.
“We believe in active citizens’ participation in democracy. That’s why we have been trying to enable a dialogue between the citizens and the people in power ahead of the 2019 elections. We have seen an incredible response from our users and hundreds of petitions have started on issues that matter to the ordinary citizen,” said Nida Hasan, Country Director, Change.org India.