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Instead of political party manifestos, Why not people’s manifesto?

Instead of political party manifestos, Why not people’s manifesto?

Instead of political party manifestos, Why not people’s manifesto?

Mangalore Today News Network

By, Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon

Mangaluru, Mar 30, 2024:
As the country approaches the highly anticipated elections, Indians are keen to know which of the manifestos of the parties and coalitions has more creative and pragmatic policies for accelerating the development of the country. Another interesting question of who is more believable in turning promises into action will be fundamental, and determine the outcome of the coming elections. In this context, the Election Manifestos, released by Political Parties, play a crucial role.



An Election Manifesto is a written declaration or a commitment to people that a party shall fulfil certain objectives what they promise. Each party has its policies about what they want to deliver and fulfil. Most politicians, both before and upon ascension into office, have lived to misguide the electorate with regards to their public promises and their actual implementation. The indenturing national values and principles of governance include inter alia, patriotism, the rule of law, democracy, participation of the people, good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability. It averts the logic of democracy and good governance if the sovereign power of the people is misled by false promises, or showering benefits only for certain communities based on their religious beliefs.

Common to all Political Manifestos are promises to enhance the quality of healthcare, education, sanitation, food, support farmers, manufacturing and job creation, woman’s empowerment, equality, address the plight of widows to help cushion them from the hardships of their losses. Health and education which are enablers of progress get a good mention in all manifestos.

In the realm of political manifestos, promises are made by individuals seeking continuance in public office and fresh entrants who aspire to join public offices. By dint of the majoritarian nature of democracy, it is presumed that whoever wins and gets into office is the choice of the people (all the people). This is despite the fact that there may exist a sizable number of the electorate who did not vote for the person in office. This hence divides the electorate (those who voted for the winner and those who did not).

By virtue of the fact that political manifestos are a key determinant of the electorate’s ballot choices, the promises held out to select groups need to be cautiously examined, by every eligible voter, and community.

Voting takes just a day, but economic growth takes several years. Whoever wins the election will need to scout for fresh resources, adopt new technologies, secure new markets and shift citizens’ mind-sets. There are the added problems of constraints by the Constitution, international obligations, judicial challenges and delays, vested interests and an ever-changing environment. No nation or international organization foresaw COVID-19 or the war in Ukraine, and Gaza?

Further, manifestos give the false impression that the political parties steer the economy, which is not fully correct The reality is that it’s the citizens who do it through taxes. Yet, there is little focus on what individuals can do to uplift themselves.

Most manifestos are quiet on deeply entrenched issues that gnaw on the economy, such as population control measures, environmental issues, pollution control measures, infiltration in the North East, proliferating drug abuse by the youth, liberation of Hindu Temples from Government control and forced diversion of Temple funds, empowerment of the people at the bottom of the pyramid, judicial reforms, and bureaucratic reforms.

Voters are tired of the backdoor deals that produce coalitions not focused on improving their lives, but maximizing politicians’ chances of winning power, remaining in power, and ensuring continuous rule by select political families.

Instead of Political Manifestos, why not Citizen’s Manifestos? Why not a civil society initiative committed to the goal of accountability in public debt management. The dire situation in Kerala, Karnataka and Bengal is due to opacity in decision making, mismanagement of debt expenditures, splurging on ministerial comforts, profligacy and flagrant violations of public finance requirements, which have contributed to the ongoing economic crisis and a possible debt trap.

It is therefore time that citizens become more responsible voters by preparing a Citizens Manifesto, that will inform the political parties of what the electorate wants. Every Constituency should decide and prepare its own priority list, and not depend on what politicians promise. From promise to implementation is a long and arduous journey.

Dr G ShreeKumar MenonDr. G. Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd), Ph.D. (Narcotics)

Former Director General of National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics & Multi-Disciplinary School Of Economic Intelligence India; Fellow, James Martin Centre For Non Proliferation Studies, USA; Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA; Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.; AOTS Scholar, Japan. He can be contacted at

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