Published: 19th February 2021
Janatapaksha: This Bengali youth group is getting common people to voice their concerns straight to politicos ahead of polls
Janatapaksha is not an upcoming party contesting elections. It's merely a platform for the people whose voices drown under the loudspeakers of party politics
As we settle ourselves after the Corona shock, 2021 brings a long list of Assembly elections. And some that might decide the fate of Indian politics for the next few years. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, the new UT of Jammu and Kashmir and Assam are already in election mode. So is West Bengal with the Assembly elections due in April-May. But more often than not we hear that the common man's voice, their issues, are not heard by the big guns of politics and the aam aadmi is left with no platform to speak from.
That's where the Janatapaksha (people's side) come in. Formed by young people scattered all across a tumultuous West Bengal, Janatapaksha is not an upcoming party contesting elections. It's merely a platform for the people whose voices drown under the loudspeakers of party politics, said Debraj Koley, a recent graduate of Film Studies from Jadavpur University. "We have various issues which we want the government and the authorities to help us out with. From the need for more ICU beds in the hospital to better educational facilities at the existing schools to a greener town — we want the authorities to address the issues," added Debraj, a resident of Arambagh, a town in Hoogly district, 80 odd kilometres off Kolkata.
They are not the third front. They merely are a platform to raise issues, harped Sourav Prakritibadi, an environmental activist and former student of Presidency University. "Every district has a few of us trying to drive the conversation about an interaction between the government and the people. We have been conducting meetings and the response has been phenomenal. People have realised that we are not playing the vote bank game. They do come to us with genuine problems — hyperlocal ones which no one pays heed to and the larger ones for which their opinions are not asked for," he added.
West Bengal has been at the crossroads of regime shifts thrice in history and every time the people voted for change they realised, soon after the election, that nothing changed, said Sourav. "The 2021 Assembly Elections poses a unique threat for the people of West Bengal. This will be the first time where the people are not even involved in the politics — it's a game only the higher ups are playing," he added. "People like us who are involved in various social movements but work outside the party banners need a platform, a voice. That was the seed of idea behind Janatapaksha. The people too need a platform to talk about and highlight the issues that have been plaguing them on a regular basis while the netas are busy playing politics," he added.
Janatapaksha recently conducted a meeting and a demonstration at the city centre of Arambagh and is planning a few more.
Education has become a topic of discussion before elections for the past couple of years but the demand for better educational facilities was always there, said Rakesh Mudli from Jhargram. "The advent of private schools due to the lack of good government schools has become a case for worry for the people from humble backgrounds. They want the government schools where they have studied to have better teachers and at least the basic infrastructure," he added.
But who will listen to the grievances? Who would be right to approach? Janatapaksha wants to leave that to the people. "The platform is for the people to raise their voice. To identify issues that need to be addressed. Once the issues come forward, the people themselves will decide where to place their demand," said the engineer who now teaches in a primary school in Purulia.