Stating that the manifestos of political parties for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections fail to address their issues, various senior citizens’ associations in the state have unanimously decided to use “none of the above (NOTA)” option while casting their votes.
They said though political parties have expressed concern about LGBT and animal welfare, they have ignored senior citizens, about a crore in number in the state.
Sailesh Mishra, founder-president of NGO Silver Innings and member of the committee that framed the National Senior Citizen Policy, said the policy was yet to be put in place. “The policy came into being in 1999, but has not seen the light of day. Our repeated pleas to the government have only fallen on deaf ears. The state’s minister for the social justice and empowerment, Shivajirao Moge, has not paid any heed to our grievances and the Chief Minister met us only once in the last five years.”
He said: “With a total population of 11 crore in the country, we are 23 per cent of the total voting population. All these years, we have been neglected, but we have the capacity to shake governments.”
While referring to the manifesto of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress, Vijay Aundhe, Mumbai president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Confederation of Maharashtra (FESCOM), said they were “disappointed” with the political parties not mentioning anything about senior citizens in their manifesto.
Aundhe, who claimed there were over 90 senior citizen forums in the city and around 2,700 in the state, said, “We have asked all members of the various forums to tell their respective candidates to take serious note of our issues, else the 15 lakh senior citizens in Mumbai will be left with no option but to exercise NOTA,” he said.
Ahead of Lok Sabha polls, organisations like All India Senior Citizens Confederation (AISCCON), FESCOM, Association of Senior Citizens Organisation of Pune (ASCOP), HelpAge India, International Longevity Centre (ILC) and Silver Inning Foundation also held a meeting last month.
Dr Kinjawadekar of the Joint Action Committee, which heads around 32 senior citizens’ organisations from across the country, said, “We had a meeting in Pune last month where we decided to convey our concerns to the local candidates in each constituency across India. The national policy for senior citizens was amended in 2011, but has been lying in cold storage since then. We can surely make an impact by exercising the NOTA option.”