Even as senior party leaders stayed away from the debate on including consumer rights in political agenda,all parties agreed to include prime consumer demands like selling essential commodities at affordable rates and improvising public distribution system (PDS). This was the first time that politicians were being quizzed on consumer rights.
City-based voluntary organisation Grahak Hitvardhini had invited BJP city chief Girish Bapat and mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale (NCP) along with city chief of Congresss consumer rights cell Ramesh Iyer,Shirish Phadtare of Shiv Sena,MNS party leader Ravindra Dhangekar and Kumar Saptarshi of third front for the debate last week.
As Bapat stayed away,Vikas Mathkari filled in for him,while no one from the Nationalist Congress Party and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena could make it for the debate, said advocate Dnyanraj Sant,secretary of Grahak Hitvardhini.
Former chief general manager of MTNL J M Paranjpe,retired deputy inspector general of police S M Mushrif,former president of Pune district consumer redressal cell R Y Patil,consumer rights experts B R Khedkar,Suryakant Pathak and Sudhakar Velankar were part of the panel.
The discussion revolved around the charter of consumer demands released by Grahak Hitvardhini last month. The charter includes demand to regularise PDS,mention of every detail of the amount charged by MSEDCL with no others column on the bill,PMC underground cabling and gram panchayats,to make options of professional and employment-oriented courses available after class VIII.
Mathkari promised to fulfil most of the demands if BJP comes to power. All the political leaders present at the discussion agreed that PDS will be improved and essential commodities will be made available at affordable rates, said Suhakar Velankar,one of the panel members and founder of Grahak Hitvardhini. Although the debate was open to public,it did not draw much response.