Nikhil De has always been the man behind the scenes. Not fiery or vociferous like most social activists, he is however, resilient, when fighting for aam aadmi’s rights and powers through his Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). Starting his work with the Kheduth Mazdoor Chetna Sangathan in Madhya Pradesh, he has been the spirit behind Right to Food, Right to Work, Election Watch and many other Human Rights campaigns. He is now part of the 100-day Jawabdehi yatra that began in Jaipur on Dec 2 and will travel across 33 districts of Rajsthan. The yatra is aimed at fixing accountability in administration. Rajasthan Post’s Iram Tasleem caught up with him before the start of yatra in Jaipur
What is jawabdehi yatra about ?
It is about making the government accountable and fix responsibility in the administration. In this yatra, all issues which find a mention in the Constitution are being looked into. We are trying to tie all issues like Right to health, Right to information, MNREGA, Right to Education, Rights of minorities, communal harmony, women’s rights, tribal rights, pension, labour and employment, Dalit rights, right to be heard, food security etc on a single string. We would cover more than 100 blocks of 33 districts of Rajasthan. We would spend three days in every district which includes registration of the complaints of people, organise jawabdehi mela at district headquarters, nukkad sabhas, nukkad nataks to educate and make people aware about their rights. At the conclusion of the yatra, a report would be submitted to the state government, giving details of the grievances of people. Our simple motto is Sawal dar sawal hai, hume jawab chahiye.
How would you ensure that this yatra gets the required attention and is able to create awareness?
In this, we need media’s support and we would try to create an environment through our work, through our one to one interaction with the common man during the yatra. Everyday many people would join the yatra from across the state.
What result are you expecting from this 100 day state wide yatra ?
This yatra would play certainly important role in bringing accountability in the administration. We hope many problems of public would get solved and registered. And try to bring in a grievance redressal law in the state to ensure an efficient and accountable government.
How would you promote Right to Information through this yatra?
We would encourage and educate people about the use of RTI. In this yatra, a multi- media vehicle called RTI on Wheels, headed by Pankti Jog from Ahmedabad is accompanying us, which aims at filing online RTIs during our Yatra and provides information and assistance to people in filing RTIs.
Do you see any weaknesses in the RTI law?
Yes, but we don’t want amendments in the RTI law because we think government will make it more weaker.
There has been always a great demand to bring political parties under the lens of RTI. What has been the reaction of political parties about it?
Political parties themselves are violating the RTI. Today they are breaking the law by not appointing the public information officers and they are not going in for appeal either.