Jaipur, March 29
A 93-year-old freedom fighter, who took part in the Quit India movement, suggested on Friday that those who fail to fulfil promises made in the party manifestos should be prosecuted.
“There is no option but to prosecute those who make promises and forget them without any consequences,” Pandit Ramkishan, former parliamentarian and four-time MLA, said at an interaction on ‘Elections Now and Then’ here on Friday.
“People do not vote on the basis of manifestos neither on development. That is why it is all the more important that the promises brought in black and white carry a legal binding,” Ramkishan said.
The nonagenarian, who has witnessed elections since the first one in 1952, said the courts had been avoiding interfering in this matter and the political process was avoiding making manifesto a legal binding.
Ramkishan feels another issue that is damaging democratic values is the massive expenditure in elections, which is making it impossible for a candidate like him and the poor to contest elections.
Over-expenditure is corrupting all parties and the policies announced by them are only a lip-service to the poor, resulting into India featuring among the highest on inequality, he said.
Ramkishan is the only surviving founder member of the Socialist Party, formed post Independence. He was also a member of the Congress Socialist Party, a body within the Congress.
He favoured changing parties being made a criminal act. “The speaker of an assembly should not be allowed to adjudicate on the issue of defection as he is partisan. Rather, a new non-partisan apparatus has to emerge.” Democracy and the people’s will can become central to development only when a steadfast and long commitment is respected, he said.
“Commitments have to be long-term, as ideas we talked in the sixties and seventies are now being implemented even by those parties that opposed them. I am happy that all political parties now accept a lot of their programmes we talked about even at the cost of losing elections,” the freedom fighter said.
Recalling his days of modest means at the time of elections, he recalled borrowing deposits of three MLA candidates from the then district Congress committee treasurer, who was an opponent.
“My opponents and I have shared the same dias and vehicles while campaigning. It gave an opportunity to a listener to avoid getting selective information and be misled,” he added.