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Kavita Chowdhury | New Delhi February 4, 2014 Last Updated at 20:58 IST
Congress workers celebrate the victory
In a first for political parties, the Congress will have a separate section for children in their manifesto and even held a consultation with child rights groups today ascertaining the issues that need to be highlighted. The day long consultation which had child rights groups like CRY, Save the Children, HAQ Centre for Child Rights participating urged Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhiwho was present there to have larger allocations for children welfare schemes and put in place a mechanism of social audit. Child rights groups have also demanded that government not abdicate its role in providing basic services in health, education, aanganwaadis, child care homes and that where privatized, these services need to be strictly regulated.
At the behest of party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, the party has “opened up” the process of drafting the party manifesto and has been holding consultations with varied groups including women, students, Dalits, street vendors and labour organizations, minority groups.
The interaction with the 30 odd representatives took place at Jawahar Bhavan was also attended by Prof. Mohan Gopal, head of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies and a close advisor to Rahul Gandhi, Congress MP Priya Dutt, ( a member of the manifesto committee), former Women and Child Development minister Renuka Chowdhury and MP Sandeep Dikshit.
Child rights groups in their charter of demands urged the Congress to ensure Right to Health and put it on the front burner as malnutrition and hunger remain persistent problems for majority of children. Children they urged, might not be a vote bank but parties should remember that they are citizens of today and cannot be neglected.
The activists while welcoming the move by the Congress urged the party to extend the ambit of children covered under the Right to Education from 0 to 6 years and upto 18 years. They have also called for harmonizing existing laws keeping child rights in mind.
Gandhi reportedly assured them that he would have more such interactions and urged them to come up with ideas that would transform children lives and have a spin off effect like that which has been achieved by RTI and RTE.