Common Minimum Programme for all Political Parties

Dear friends,

Reference : Soliciting esteemed support on key agenda for political parties in General Elections 2014

General elections 2014 are round the corner, and the political parties will soon get busy with their promises. Public Interest Foundation (PIF) has listed issues of prime public concern which in our opinion, must be flagged for immediate ownership and action by political parties.

ABOUT THE FOUNDATIONPublic Interest Foundation (PIF), a NGO, working towards the advocacy of good governance practices since 2008. The Foundation is currently chaired by Mr. Naresh Chandra, former Ambassador to the United States and ex-Cabinet Secretary, Government of India. The other members of the Governing Council of PIF include Dr. Bimal Jalan (Economist and former Governor of Reserve Bank of India), Mr. B. G. Verghese (Columnist, Author, currently visiting professor at the Centre for Policy Research), Mr. Harshvardhan Neotia and Mr. Suresh Neotia (Industrialists), Ms. Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi), and Mr. Tarun Das (Former Chief Mentor, Confederation of Indian Industry).

Given the disjointed and populist nature of the present polity, only a strong case made out through widely disseminated and supported public opinion on specific agenda can be counted upon to make any dent on the present reluctant pace of peoples’ oriented reforms adoption by political parties. And thus the role of collective voice of common citizens/CSOs/NGOs is of pivotal importance in being able to put together such an advocacy campaign.

The following Common Minimum Programme in our view should form an essential part of the manifesto of all political parties towards the 2014 General Elections. Our listing of issues in the draft has also been limited to restrict to only those that can be tracked in terms of performance after elections. Thus the issues covered, may not be exhaustive but are basically very fundamental agendas that every common man should have a right-based claim on.

PIF has shared the same with 45 registered state parties and registered national political parties insisting on their commitment by incorporating the issues raised in their party manifesto towards the General Elections due for 2014.

PIF solicits your support towards this agenda on Common Minimum Programme for political parties.

Nripendra Misra,
Director, Public Interest Foundation

A. INCLUSIVE GROWTH i. Provide drinking water in each village As against the target of 7,98,967 habitations* for coverage under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) during the Eleventh Plan, the coverage up to 31 March 2012 was 6,65,034 (83 per cent). (Source 12th Five Year Plan, Planning Commission)(*The rural habitation is often a unit of differentiation used to define a community based on caste and creed and also by members who by and large share common language and cultural characteristics.)
ii. Self-sufficiency in power(Minimum of 8 hours of power supply to rural areas to be ensured)


The Eleventh Plan estimated a terminal year (2011–12) requirement of electricity generation from utilities at 1,038 billion units (BU), implying growth rate of 9.1 per cent (CAGR) per annum over the gross generation level of 670.65 BU in 2006–07 (the terminal year of the Tenth Plan). As against the above, the actual generation from utilities in 2011–12 was 876.88 BU, a shortfall of about 16 per cent, implying an annual growth rate of only 5.51 per cent for power from the utilities. This has resulted in a demand–supply gap. On 31 March 2012, it was estimated that the peak deficit gap was 11.1 per cent and energy deficit was 8.5 per cent.
iii. 100% enrolment of children in elementary schools Average enrolment rate is 96% for 2011-12. But average retention rate at primary level is stagnant at 74-76% since 2009
iv. Health insurance for all, upto a defined amount Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana or RSBY launched in 2008 is a very innovative programme. The objective of RSBY is to provide protection to BPL households from financial liabilities arising out of health shocks that involve hospitalization. Beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalization coverage up to Rs. 30,000/- for most of the diseases that require hospitalization. Government has even fixed the package rates for the hospitals for a large number of interventions. Pre-existing conditions are covered from day one and there is no age limit. Coverage extends to five members of the family which includes the head of household, spouse and up to three dependents. Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs. 30/- as registration fee while Central and State Government pays the premium to the insurer selected by the State Government on the basis of a competitive bidding.A beneficiary of RSBY gets cashless benefit in any of the empanelled hospitals. He/ she only needs to carry his/ her smart card and provide verification through his/ her finger print. For participating providers it is a paperless scheme as they do not need to send all the papers related to treatment to the insurer. They send online claims to the insurer and get paid electronically.
v. Women empowerment:

  • Education specific special provisions for girl child (eg. computer, cycle, scholarship,etc.)
  • Political empowerment of women (eg. Reservation in elected bodies)
  • Protection of women against major social problems (eg. taking a firm stand against retrograde steps like khap panchayat, valentine’s day celebration)
Policy measures such as the ones suggested below maybe emphasised upon to promote women empowerment in various aspects of lie:a) Name of mother compulsory in admission of students in school
b) 50% reservation of women in panchayat, zila panchayat and local elections
c) Special scheme for villages who have all women administrative body
d) No Stamp duty on properties bought in name of woman
e) For conversion of lease hold property into free hold property less stamp duty to be charged in case the property is getting registered in the name of the women of the household. This is already done by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) where duty at the rate of 6% in case of men and 4 % in case of women has to be paid to or Land and Development Office (L&DO)
f) Passing of Women’s Reservation Bill requiring reservation of one-third seats in Parliament for women candidates
vi. Growth focus on employment generation especially for age group of 18 to 35 According to Planning Commission Report on Entrepreneurship of the year 2012, “India needs to create 10 – 15 million jobs per year.”
B. DEVELOPMENT / GROWTH i. Transparent, open & discretion free process for allocation of resources under the state
ii. Effective measures to curb the role of black money in Indian economy
C. PUBLIC SERVICES DELIVERY i. Ensure enforcement & compliance to Right to Public Services & Grievance redressal So far 17 states have passed such an Act but the services notified are very restricted
ii. Electronic delivery of services The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011 by the Minister of HRD and Information Technology. The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Information Technology on January 5, 2012, which gave its report in August 2012.
iii. Minimum standard of civic services to be declared & maintained
D. ETHICS IN PUBLIC LIFE i. Lokpal for senior political functionaries & top most civil servants The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, introduced on December 22, 2011, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011.  The Bill was taken up for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha, which referred it to a Select Committee (Chairperson: Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi).  The Committee submitted its report in November 2012.
ii. Lokayukta in each state for senior political functionaries & civil servants Till now only 19 states have the enacted the Lokayukta Act
iii. Institutional framework for administering civil servants
iv. Transparent institutional framework for appointment to constitutional/ statutory authorities Collegium  comprising of representation from ruling party, opposition party and judiciary to be formed for all such appointments
v. Concrete steps towards police reforms Recommendations towards this have come in the form  National Police Commission Model Bill, 1980, recommendations have also been made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Law Commission, the Ribeiro Committee, the Padmanabhaiah Committee, the Malimath Committee, and the Soli Sorabjee Committee, but no concrete steps towards its implementation.Supreme Court of India in 2006 had asked the state to choose any of the models on Security Commission suggested by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ribeiro Committee and the Soli Sorabjee Committee, all of which recommended it to be a multi-member body with sufficient representation from civil society and judiciary.

Six years after ushering in police reforms, the Supreme Court on April 11, 2013 took the first step for its implementation in “letter and spirit” and asked states to furnish within a week status of the Security Commissions which were to be set up to insulate the police from political interference.

E. POLITICAL PARTY, ELECTORAL & LEGISLATIVE REFORMS i. Time bound fast tracking of trial  cases against elected public functionaries convicted of serious/heinous crimes Time-bound fast tracking of all cases against elected public functionaries convicted of serious/heinous crimes and punishable with an imprisonment of five years or more, does not require any legislative amendment. It only requires an administrative order by Supreme Court in consultation with the Law Ministry. There are Public Interest Litigations before the Supreme Court of India on this issue.
ii. Politicians convicted by court to be denied tickets for contesting elections The political parties need to commit loud & clear
iii. Ensuring decriminalization of politics through appropriate changes in election laws Concrete recommendations towards this have been made by a number of highly valued Committees like  the Law Commission’s 170th Report on Electoral Reforms of 1999; recommendations from the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution of 2002; Election Commission’s Recommendations on the Electoral reforms of 2004; Justice Verma Committee Report of 2012
iv. Ensured submission of annual asset statement by all MPs & MLAs & putting all such information in public domain Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha laid down rules for asset declaration stipulates the one-time submission of asset details of MPs within 90 days, but the annual compliance to such a rule for asset declaration is not a part of these rules. Moreover, these one-time declaration of assets of MPs are not put in public domain as they are considered confidential documents that can be shared only  with the approval of the Speaker/Chairperson of the House
v. ECI to be empowered on   registration and de-registration of political parties
vi. Making Parliament functional Ensuring uninterrupted functioning of the Parliament for a fixed minimum of days to make sure that the national interest is not jeopardised
F. LAND ACQUISITION & LAND REFORMS a) Concrete policy measures to ensure that besides compensation, a long-term source of livelihood generation (through an employment or appropriate equity participation) is ensured to the owner of the land (especially in case they are farmers).
b) Maintaining the balance to ensure that industrial and infrastructural growth also gets their due focus.