Kolkata, Apr 3 UNI | 4 months ago

National Institute of Professionals (NIP) NGO, an Educational Centre for the Blind and Disabled Students organised a Panel Discussion on "16th Parliamentary Election - Political Parties Manifesto and Disability" for the exploration of new avenue for the disabled and to light the manifesto of different political parties in ensuing Lok Sabha Poll here at Rotary Sadan today.

Political leaders from different political parties and representatives from different organization related to differently able persons represented their valuable opinion on this discussion.

The discussion was attended by eminent personalities Debasish Kumar, TMC; Pradip Bhattacharya, WBPCCI; Mudar Patherya, AAP; Ms Mita Banerjee, State Commissioner of Disability and representative of Election Commission and many others.

The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disability (CCPD) asked the Election Commission to ensure the accessibility of the polling booths. The Election Commission has also been supplying visually challenged voters with list of candidates with serial numbers in Braille since 2009. The EVMs are also marked with Braille numbers for the convenience of visually challenged voters.

Election to the disabled voters is never of much importance. Accessibility is a major problem, no doubt. But the greater problem is secrecy. In most cases they are forced to take one of the polling officials inside the booth instead of their own escorts.

It is unfortunate that this community forms about more than two per cent of the entire population according to the Census 2011; yet they are hardly remembered by the political parties. They are spread all over the country. More or less, equal distribution of the disabled voters among the constituencies and their negligible
participation in the election process have rendered them as insignificant. Their votes do not affect the outcome of the poll in anyway.

The SC and ST voters and voters of other communities are concentrated in a particular area. The lot of the candidates from that area depend heavily on their votes. They have to pay attention to their needs. It sometimes leads to narrow, community-based promises, but these communities benefit from it.

This time the Parliamentary Election seems significant to the disabled voters as the new Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) bill is pending in the Rajya-Sabha and not yet tabled in the Lok-Sabha.

It has become more significant when the disabled community demanded for more deliberation on the bill and government wanted to get it passed before the election was declared. The police resorted to lathi charge on the peaceful demonstration by hundreds of visually challenged persons in New Delhi on February 27.

Speaking about the event, Debajyoti Roy, Secretary, NIP, said, "The disabled persons want their voices to be heard when the bill is on the table. The parties must take into account the hopes and aspirations of the disabled voters. The objective of this programme is to review the situation of the disabled persons in the midst of the election process.'

(Posted on 04-04-2014)