Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lok Satta screens candidates For GHMC elections

The Lok Satta Party, which is determined to make a good showing in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections, has completed screening of candidates for 70 of the 150 divisions.

Mr. Katari Sriniasa Rao and Dr. P. Bhaskara Rao, party spokesmen and Mr. Dasari Ratnam, State Convener, Yuva Satta, told the media that the Lok Satta call to the young and educated to contest the elections on the Lok Satta platform had elicited tremendous response. What is heartening is that a number of candidates with leadership qualities and competence and commitment are among the applicants. The candidates would be finalized once the Government finalized the reservation of wards for different communities.

The Lok Satta leaders pointed out that the Lok Satta, despite the enormous good will it enjoyed, could not poll votes in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the same proportion because of the malicious propaganda that a vote to the Lok Satta would be a wasted vote. In addition, considerations of caste, money and liquor played a significant role.

In contrast, the local elections would be fought on local issues. The Lok Satta is in the process of finalizing division-wise and time-bound agenda to resolve the burning problems of people ranging from drinking water supply and sanitation to traffic and public transport.

The Lok Satta leaders said that the GHMC elections provided a golden opportunity to develop Hyderabad on par with the best cities in the world provided the citizens utilized their vote with discretion. As of now, land grabbers and goondas ruled the roost as the young and educated shunned politics and civic matters. They said that in the recent past attempts had been made to grab land in ENT Hospital, Kothi and in Chikoti Gardens, Begumet.

Thanks to the Lok Satta, the young and the educated have now realized that they should lead politics from the front, like Subhash Chandra Bose, Chittaranjan Das, Jawaharlal Nehru and Prakasam Pnatulu in the past.

The Lok Satta is launching its Mission 2014 (of coming to power) beginning with GHMC, asserted the leaders.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cooperative farming will end up In disaster, warns Dr. JP

The cooperative or collective farming envisaged by the Andhra Pradesh Government to step up both productivity and production will end up in a disaster, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan warned today. “The remedy proposed is worse than the disease.”

Dr. JP, who took part in an all-party meeting convened by the Chief Minister on cooperative farming earlier in the day, said farming in Andhra Pradesh suffered from a host of ailments all of which had little to do with the size of farms. “Productivity and production in the farm sector have been low not because the land holdings are small but because farmers do not have access to technology.”

He pointed out that “technology is scale neutral.” Farmers irrespective of the size of their holdings embrace new technologies if they are available as is evident from the fact that 80 percent of cotton farmers have taken to the pest resistant BT cotton variety all over the country. The farmers are helpless either when modern technology is not available or they have no access. Although there are cane harvesters all over the world, they are not available in Andhra Pradesh.

Dr. JP highlighted that only eight percent of seeds used by farmers are certified and four percent of their soils tested. On both counts, the farmer is a loser. The problem, therefore, lay with the Government and not the farmer in making new technologies accessible to him.

Dr. JP told a media meeting that the Government’s advocacy of large, consolidated holdings in the name of cooperative or collective farming for precision farming is untenable. Precision farming involves control of temperature, moisture etc in green houses as in the raising of tulips in the Netherlands. The holdings involved are all small and not at all large.

Dr. JP pointed out that all over the country productivity in small farms is higher than in large farms because the small farmer invests his labor of love, besides other inputs, to reap higher harvests. He does not include his labor in costing. If cooperative farming is introduced, the small farmer becomes a wage earner and loses his dignity. As he charges for his labor, the cost of production in cooperative farming is bound to be higher.

Dr. JP said the real problem lay in the absence of breakthroughs in technologies after the Green Revolution of the 1960s. The Government could address some of the problems like absence of dryers and threshing platforms.

“Nowhere in the world large-scale farming has been a success. In India itself, we have 14 Central State Farms spread over tens of thousands of acres. But all the farms run by the Government of India are bankrupt. The erstwhile Soviet Union paid a very high price for promoting collective farming. In India, cooperatives have succeeded where they are engaged in processing and marketing and not in primary production. Milk cooperatives are a good example. Even in dairy cooperatives whenever the Government controlled them as in Kadapa and Chittoor, the dairies went bankrupt whereas farmer-controlled processing cooperatives are doing well.”

Dr. JP did not rest with rubbishing the Government proposal. He suggested alternatives for stepping up productivity and production. He wanted the Government to enact a law as in Punjab to promote consolidation of fragmented holdings. The present monstrous tenancy law has to be liberalized. Although two-thirds of land holdings in the State are in the hands of tenants, owners do not register them for fear of losing ownership.

Once tenancy is brought on record, the tenant can access bank credit and other inputs. A liberalized tenancy law will also facilitate contract farming which is in the interest of the farmer as also the country. For instance, sugarcane and oil palm are raised as a contract between processing mills and farmers. In a similar fashion, paper producers enter into an understanding with farmers for supply of softwood in Andhra Pradesh, and vegetable producers for supply of raw material to processing industry in Punjab.

Dr. JP wanted the Government to focus on value addition, warehousing and marketing. The marketing societies should be under the control of farmers, and all restrictions on marketing should be removed.

Lok Satta demands ACB inquiry Into Jindal land scam

The Lok Satta Party today demanded an ACB inquiry into the Rs.10-crore scam in the acquisition of land for the Jindal Aluminum factory in Vizianagaram district.

Addressing a media meet, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan regretted that although the party submitted a report on the irregularities in land acquisition to the Chief Minister on September 8, 2008, no action had been taken.

The party today released a detailed report on its field-level findings.

Dr. JP and Mr. Bhisetty Babjee, Vizianagaram district party President of the party, said that politicians and officials colluded and siphoned off at least Rs.10 crore of the Rs.22.44 crore payments by creating bogus farmers. Some genuine farmers had been paid nominal compensation while some others had not been paid at all.

The Lok Satta inquiry had revealed that the officials tampered with revenue records and indulged in forgery. The Lok Satta leaders demanded that justice be rendered to displaced farmers and the guilty punished.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Punish the guilty in white card scam: Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Government’s determination and drive to weed out bogus white ration cards but wanted it to issue white cards to all the eligible.

Talking to the media, party spokesmen Dr. P. Bhaskara Rao and G. Raja Reddy said it was good the Government had woken up to the need to correct its mistakes. It should also own the responsibility for the injustice caused to the deserving poor and the loss to the exchequer.

The spokesmen pointed out that the Government which took up many schemes on a saturation basis like issue of white ration cards, grant of INDIRAMMA houses, sanction of pensions and treatment under ‘Arogyasree’ allowed them to be abused by ruling party leaders and workers with an eye on elections. Even according to the Chief Minister himself, there are 30 lakh bogus ration cards while unofficial estimates put them at 80 lakh. All these have involved an avoidable loss of a few thousands of crores to the exchequer.

Dr. Bhaskara Rao and Mr. Raja Reddy said such a huge scam cannot be swept under the carpet by terming it as an administrative lapse. They demanded that an inquiry be conducted into the scam and action taken against the guilty. After all a scam of such a magnitude would not have taken place without the support and encouragement of top politicians and officials.

The Lok Satta leaders also demanded that the Government recover the money siphoned by ineligible beneficiaries and local leaders in the implementation of the INDIRAMMA housing scheme, instead of merely punishing employees.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Centralization of power at Root of our ills: Dr. JP

The bane of governance in India is the centralization of power and emasculation of local governments, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said yesterday.

"The local governments are structurally strong going by the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution which are lengthier than the American Constitution. But they are functionally feeble."

He was addressing the Emerging Markets Forum, which met in Mumbai, focusing on the theme of "Creating an affluent society in India by 2039 on par with the U. S. and Europe."

Emerging Markets Forum is a network of thought leaders, opinion makers, policy formulators and business people who come together to discuss issues of global and national significance. It is mainly a network of leading minds, who create a platform for an open and informed debate focused on emerging markets. The conference was organized by IDFC and supported by the Express group along with the Bombay Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking on governance reforms, Dr. JP pointed out that many districts in India are bigger than 50 percent of the countries in the world and the metropolitan cities are larger than 80 percent of the countries. Yet the local governments have been made irrelevant. No wonder, most people in the country do not know the names of Mayors of even large metropolitan cities in India, unlike those of London, New York or Mexico City.

Dr. JP said that power had been concentrated so much that there are only three decisions makers in India - the PM, the CM and the DM (district magistrate).

He called for genuine decentralization with devolution of powers, responsibilities, resources and personnel on the local governments. The people would not realize the importance of their vote unless they appreciated how it was going to transform their lives. Otherwise they would succumb to short-term sops or money and liquor offered by political parties.

Dr. JP underlined the need for civil service reforms. India is perhaps the only modern democracy in the world, which clings to institutions created by colonial rulers a century and half ago.

The Lok Satta President said that decentralization should provide for local policing and local courts. There has been a market demand for criminals and thugs because the people could not depend on the police and the courts to render them timely justice.

Dr. JP asserted that India could not be transformed unless competent people with leadership qualities entered politics as they did during the freedom movement. People like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dadabhai Naoroji, Chittaranjan Das, Prakasam Pantulu, Subhash Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel started their political by taking interest in local civic affairs and emerged as national leaders during the freedom struggle. "Since there is now an absence of such leaders, sons and daughters of politicians and criminals have filled the vacuum. People are thirsting for change and waiting for a miracle. But the miracle won't happen unless the educated young and middle class people plunge into politics."

Among those who took part in the EMF proceedings were EMF Chairman and Philippines former President Fidel V. Ramos, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, former Mexican President Vincent Fox and former Union Minister Arun Shourie, economist Sankar Acharya, political scientists Prof. Asutosh Varshney and Prof. Inder Sud and Maharashtra Lok Satta President Surendra Srivatsava.

Lok Satta allotted 'whistle'

The State Election Commission has decided to include ‘whistle’ among free symbols and allot it to the Lok Satta Party as requested by it.

In a letter to Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, General Secretary of the Lok Satta Party, Mr. G. M. Ramesh Kumar, Secretary of the Election Commission, said, “this is an interim arrangement restricted to GHMC elections only and will not confer any right on the Lok Satta Party to claim the same symbol in future local body elections.”

This was disclosed at a media briefing by party spokesmen V. Laxman Balaji and Mohd Ishaq Khan here today.

The Lok Satta Party had contested the May 2008 by-elections to the Assembly and the 2009 general elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha on the ‘whistle’ symbol.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lok Satta revamping district units

The Lok Satta Party has constituted an 18-member committee to go round districts and evaluate the district units’ performance as a prelude to the reshuffling of office-bearers. Based on the feedback from the committee, the revamp will be undertaken by the State leadership. The party had already declared that the earlier elected committees would function as ad hoc committees pending reorganization.

Giving this information here today, Mr. V. Vijayender Reddy and E. Chennayya told the media that the 18 members of the committee would split themselves into six groups for the district visits.

The spokesmen made it clear that performance of the party units during the just concluded Assembly and Lok Sabha elections would be the criterion for their evaluation. Under no circumstances would office bearers who harmed party interests would be tolerated.

The committee members would also enlighten district units on the new categories of membership -- primary, executive and honorary – and motivate them to enroll 20 lakh primary members.

The party would appoint four persons to be in charge of divisions in the four parliamentary constituencies in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. It is in the process of drawing up division-wise agendas as part of its campaign for the GHMC elections.

The party regretted that the Chief Minister injected religion into administration by ordering rituals to propitiate the rain God.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dr. JP key speaker at world conference

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be a key speaker at the Emerging Markets Forum’s fourth world conference being organized in Mumbai on June 24 and 25 and in New Delhi on June 26.

The Washington DC-based forum, comprising political, corporate and social activists, aims at finding practical solutions to common political, economic and social problems the developing markets face.

Among those taking part in the forum’s conference are the EMF Chairman and Philippines former President Fidel V. Ramos, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, World Trade Organization Deputy Director General Alejandro Jara, former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, former Mexican President Vincent Fox and former Union Ministers Arun Shourie and Suresh Prabhu.

Dr. JP will be addressing the forum on administrative and political reforms. The Bombay Chamber of Commerce is hosting the three-day conference.

Lok Satta to name young candidate For Mayor’s position

The Lok Satta Party would choose a young candidate for the Mayor’s post and announce the name soon, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has announced.

Addressing young professionals from Secunderabad who joined the party under the leadership of Mrs. Akula Maharani, Dr. JP said the Mayor candidate would be picked up from among the young who have leadership qualities, clear understanding of problems and commitment.

The GHMC elections, he told the youth, provided a golden opportunity to transform Hyderabad into a world-class and most livable city of which every one could be proud. Every young man and woman should realize it was possible if they utilized the most powerful weapon in their hands – the vote.

Dr. JP said that after detailed studies and great deliberation, the Lok Satta is giving five irrevocable guarantees all of which can be fulfilled with the resources already available. And the Lok Satta has the sincerity, commitment and competence to fulfill its promises.

The five guarantees are:

  • Supply of safe drinking water in all colonies and bastis which do not have the facility now with the installation of reverse osmosis plants
  • Implementing a citizen’s charter under which failure to attend to a public grievance in a specified period invites penalty on the GHMC
  • Identification and resolution of problems basti-colony wise and implementation of a division agenda in three phases – 100 days, one year and five years respectively.
  • Devolution of GHMC funds at the rate of Rs.2 crore for each division every year, so that an elected divisional committee could spend it on attending to pressing local problems
  • Integration of the functioning of the GHMC, Metrowater and Urban Development Authority

Dr. JP called upon the youth who are eager to rid the city permanently of problems concerning drinking water, sanitation, traffic and encroachments to utilize the Lok Satta platform and contest the elections. He told the youth that leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Prakasam Pantulu were first civic leaders before they became national leaders. They could get in touch with the party on Tel. Nos. 040-23231818 or 040-40405050 or email their applications to GHMCCandidates@loksatta.org

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lok Satta campaign to amend anti corruption law

The Lok Satta party has called upon the people and party activists to write to the Chief Minister on the need to plug loopholes in the Prevention of Corruption Act and punish the guilty.

It may be recalled that Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan had presented a draft Bill for amendment of the Act to the Chief Minister and the Speaker of the Assembly in the first session of the Assembly.

The Bill proposes to bring all those elected to public offices including legislators under the purview of the Act. It seeks to tighten several provisions which allow the corrupt to go unscathed now.

The party proposes to mobilize public opinion on the need to eradicate corruption by associating all political parties and civic society organizations.

Talking to the media, party spokespersons Katari Srinivasa Rao and Mrs. S. Manorama requested the Chief Minister to demonstrate that he stood by his promise to eradicate corruption by getting the amendments to the law passed in the Assembly’s budget session.

The party spokespersons strongly condemned Mr. Sarvey Satyanarayana, the Congress MP elected from Malkajgiri, that the people of Kukatpally had committed a blunder by electing Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party President, as their representative in the Assembly. It was nothing but an affront to the enlightened Kukatpally voters. To claim that development works would be taken up only if the Congress candidates were elected to the GHMC since the party is in power both in the State and at the Center was a travesty of the Constitution and democracy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Schools in awful shape: Lok Satta

A Lok Satta sample survey of schools in the public sector in the State has revealed that they continue to be bereft of basic amenities even as the new academic year has begun.

Disclosing this at a media meet, party spokespersons V. Laxman Balaji and Mrs. Gita Murthy said that party volunteers had surveyed some schools in Greater Hyderabad and in Warangal, Nizamabad and Vizianagaram districts.

The survey shows that most schools do not have pucca buildings and in most schools classes are conducted in one or two rooms. Most teachers happen to be volunteers and most of the schools do not have drinking water or toilet facilities. Women teachers in primary schools on Hydernagar Road and in Martanda Nagar, the Zilla Parishad School on Nizampet road and the Urdu school in Hafizpet are forced to knock at neighbor’s doors for want of toilet facilities. The funds earmarked for provision of basic amenities in the Nizampet school were diverted for purchase of 40 computers but all of them remain unutilized. Although there are 800 girl students in three municipal schools in Vizianagaram town, none of them has a toilet.

In addition, students have to reckon with shortage of textbooks and teachers awaiting transfers.

The spokespersons pointed out that the Government has launched a drive for student enrolment in schools with great fanfare. But without providing basic amenities, the Government could not expect the students to excel in their studies. No wonder, even the poorer sections are forced to send their wards to private schools for better education.

The Lok Satta Party has decided to adopt the school on Hydernagar Road in Serilingampalli Assembly constituency and develop it as a model school, said the spokespersons.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lok Satta to rope in opinion makers

The Lok Satta Party plans to identify at least 100 influential opinion makers in every Assembly constituency and enlist them as honorary members by invitation.

The party, which conducted a three-day intensive review of its performance in the 2009 elections by interacting with the contestants, came to the conclusion that there was an enormous gulf between the public esteem it enjoyed and the votes it polled.

Disclosing this at a media conference, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said the challenge before the Lok Satta is formidable in that it has to operate amidst a hostile and corrupt political and electoral system to translate its support base into votes.

Dr. JP said that for the first time in a generation the middle classes have realized that politics is a necessity and noble endeavor and owned up the Lok Satta Party and its agenda as their own.

Transformation in any society, Dr. JP, said was possible only when the middle classes, the media and influential opinion makers joined hands. With the middle classes already on its side, the Lok Satta has to associate the media and influential opinion makers in its mission to transform India. Dr. JP hoped that the media, as a moral instrument, would in the long run identify itself with the interests and aspirations of the middle classes. The real challenge lay in providing space to public opinion makers with ability and influence. The Lok Satta would identify such people and enlist them as honorary members.

The party identified deficiencies in leadership, organization and resources as responsible for its poor electoral performance. The party needed leaders of quality and integrity, clean money to run honest politics and a robust organization. To address all the issues together, the party decided to create an institutional mechanism.

The party plans to have three types of members. The most important category is the executive membership. It is open to all citizens with a good personal track record. They pay an annual membership fee of Rs.1000 or Rs.100 a month. They will have the right to contest at every level in organizational elections. They will also be entrusted with the task of identifying candidates to contest to elected offices.

The other two types of members are primary members and associate members. Primary members pay a fee of Rs.100 for three years and enjoy the right to vote in village and mandal organizational elections in rural areas and ward/divisional elections in urban areas. Associate members pay a fee of Rs.10 and enjoy the right to vote in party elections at the local level.

Dr. JP said that honorary members enlisted by the party would enjoy all the privileges of executive members.

The revamping of the organization has been so conceived that it facilitates mobilization of resources from members and emergence of leaders, said Dr. JP.

Dr. JP invites the brightest to Contest GHMC elections

The Lok Satta Party today appealed to the brightest citizens in Hyderabad to take active interest in civic affairs by contesting the elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

“View the ensuing elections as a golden opportunity to transform our city for good and not as a political exercise”, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said here.

“It is a disgrace to all of us that people should go through the indignity of living amidst overflowing sewers or die of drinking water.”

Dr. JP recalled that many stalwarts of the freedom struggle cut their teeth in politics by taking part in civic affairs and subsequently emerged as national leaders.

The Lok Satta, he said, has finalized a sharply defined agenda for transforming the city in the next five years.

The five promises the party is making are:

  • Supply of safe drinking water in all colonies and bastis which do not have the facility now with the installation of reverse osmosis plants
  • Implementing a citizen’s charter through a call centre, under which failure to attend to a public grievance in a specified period invites a Rs.100 per day penalty on the GHMC
  • Identification and resolution of problems basti-colony wise and implementation of a division agenda in three phases – 100 days, one year and five years respectively.
  • Devolution of GHMC funds at the rate of Rs.2 crore for each division every year, so that an elected divisional committee could spend it on attending to pressing local problems
  • Integration of the functioning of the GHMC, Metrowater and Urban Development Authority

Dr. JP said the Lok Satta is keen on fielding candidates of integrity and leadership qualities and appealed to the younger generation eager to contest the elections to contact the Lok Satta Party headquarters (Tel: 23231818) or its call center (40405050) with their bio data. They are also welcome to email it to the GHMCCandidates@loksatta.org. The aspiring candidates will be screened and interviewed by a committee once the Government finalizes the reservation of wards.

Dr. JP appealed to the State Election Commission to honor its commitment to the High Court by ensuring there is a gap of at least a month between the finalization of wards’ reservation and the election notification. The parties need the time to choose candidates in a transparent and democratic manner. He also requested the Election Commission to include ‘whistle’ among free symbols. The Lok Satta would like to contest on the ‘whistle’ symbol with which the party has been identified.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2014 belongs to the Lok Satta, Asserts Dr. JP

If the Lok Satta Party sticks to its values without any compromise, the year 2014 definitely belongs to it, asserted party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today. “And the political calendar too favors the fledgling party”.

Addressing party people who contested the 2009 elections, Dr. JP said the Lok Satta is here to stay and determined to fight for transformation in people’s lives, however arduous struggle is going to be. “People are ready for real change and it will happen in 2014 (when the Assembly elections are due again) going by the winds of change blowing across the State.

Party spokesmen V. Laxman Balaji and Mohd. Ishaq Khan gave this information to the media today.

Although vast numbers of people admired the party in the 2009 elections, they stopped short of endorsing it. “The months and years to come are a testing time for us. People will keenly watch whether the Lok Satta sticks to its values or compromises on them to garner a few seats in elections, like other parties.”

He recalled that a survey conducted by a TV channel immediately after the 2009 elections were out showed that 96 percent of the respondents viewed the Lok Satta Party as an alternative to both the Congress and the TDP, mirroring the high hopes the people had of the Lok Satta.

Dr. JP pointed out that the political calendar too favored the Lok Satta in that elections scheduled for various local bodies would provide a golden opportunity to mobilize public support. After elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, elections to municipal councils will take place in 135 towns accounting for almost 150 Assembly constituencies. Thereafter, elections to panchayati raj bodies would take place. If the party made good use of the local body elections, facing the 2014 elections would be an easy task, said Dr. JP.

Dr. JP reiterated that none need to make great sacrifices to build up the party. It was enough if they devoted a little part of their time, increased party membership and invited and encouraged competent people to take up leadership. He wished politicians in Andhra Pradesh had emulated Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and leader of the Opposition L. K. Advani who apologized to each other for election-eve bitter exchanges and agreed to let bygones be bygones.

The fault lies with us, concede Lok Satta contestants

Umpteen are the causes for the poor electoral performance of the Lok Satta Party in the 2009 elections, revealed party candidates who contested the elections in an introspection session at the party headquarters here today. Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma chaired the session on the second day of the review of the party’s performance.

Party spokespersons V. Vijayender Reddy and Mrs. Ravala Jhansi Lakshmi and Vice President Bhisetty Babji briefed the media on the deliberations.

The participants pointed out that they could not tap the enormous good will the party enjoyed in the form of votes largely because of organizational weakness. The party had a large number of members everywhere but they were not given to taking active part in party programs. The Lok Satta did not emerge as a real contender in the eye of the voter as it did not splurge money and whip up frenzy in its favor like the traditional parties. It could not even constitute an adequate number of booth committees.

The participants revealed that a section of rural voters was not aware of the importance of the vote in transforming their lives and they voted for their largest benefactor in terms of money and liquor. That most candidates were new to politics and elections, that the party would not make any credible promises on redressing local problems and that the candidates had little time to campaign also worked against the party.

The participants suggested plugging of organizational weaknesses by encouraging local leadership and increasing membership, initiation of training programs for active members, mobilization of resources, formation of party wings to represent different sections in society and education of voters.

The contestants opined that although people were fed up with the traditional parties they still voted for them as the Lok Satta had not yet emerged as a viable alternative to them. The Lok Satta could measure up to people’s expectations if it emerged stronger organizationally.

Dr. JP said his confidence in the Lok Satta’s ability to usher in new politics had doubled going by the feedback from contestants. Their determination to make a better showing in all elections in future was heart warming.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Develop killer instinct, Dr. JP tells party workers

Lok Satta Party President Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan told party activists today that they had to develop the killer instinct and not depend solely on the party’s image to win in elections.

Addressing a meeting of party people who contested the 2009 elections, Dr. JP recalled that although most of them were new to politics and elections they had put up a creditable performance in the face of the traditional parties’ bid to induce voters with money and liquor and the vicious propaganda that a vote to the Lok Satta would be a wasted vote. “But you don’t win an election simply by being good and sincere. You have to live amidst people, fight for their causes and provide competent leadership to convert their good will into votes.”

The party leadership today began a three-day detailed review of its performance in the 2009 elections. The contestants, divided into three batches, are giving their feedback. Party spokesmen Katari Srinivasa Rao and P. Ravi Maruth briefed the media on the first day’s deliberations,

In his address, Dr. JP said that the party had reached most people in the State going by the fact that it had polled some votes in every polling booth. Unlike other parties, it had a clear-cut agenda. But it had to strengthen itself organizationally, identify competent people and provide them space in the party to make an impact in elections.

Dr. JP rubbished certain parties’ propaganda that they had lost the elections because of Lok Satta’s inroads into their vote banks. Claiming certain sections of people as the vote banks of any party was nothing an affront to them. He cited two instances to drive home the point that parties did not have any permanent vote banks. The BJP claimed that it had lost in the May 2008 Musheerabad by election because of the Lok Satta. Although the same candidates were in the race in the 2009 Assembly elections, the BJP polled less votes than in the by election while the Lok Satta doubled its votes. Similarly in the Secunderabad Assembly constituency, the TDP, which contested in alliance with the TRS in the 2009 elections, was defeated while the Lok Satta polle 50 percent more votes than in the 2008 by election.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao and Mr. Ravi said the party contestants displayed enormous confidence in the future of the party, and displayed no signs of disappointment or despair over their inability to convert people’s good will into votes. They believed that every vote they polled was equivalent to 100 votes of their opponents because it was a fight between dharma and adharma. The party was determined to make a better showing in the local body elections, the spokesmen said.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lok Satta asks for contingency plan

The Lok Satta Party today wanted the Government to be ready with a contingency plan to safeguard the interests of farmers as also consumers as the monsoon is playing truant.

Talking to the media, party spokespersons V. Laxman Balaji and Mrs. S. Manorama said the common people are already bearing the brunt of skyrocketing prices of food grains and vegetables and if the monsoon is further delayed it will hurt both consumers and producers.

The party suggested that the Government stockpile short-gestation seed varieties, and ensure there is no shortage of drinking water and fodder. Since warehouses are overflowing with food grain stocks, the Government should have no difficulty in keeping prices under check.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dr. JP’s ‘Meet the People’ program

Lok Satta Party President and MLA Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will take part in a “Meet the People” program at Imax Garden, on Road No 4 in KPHB Colony, Kukatpally from 2 p.m. on 14th June 2009.

Dr. JP will interact with the public in the presence of civic officials in a bid to facilitate resolution of their problems.

School management bows to parents

Cal Public School in Kapra today agreed to roll back the steep fees it had effected following an agitation by parents.

The school had raised the fees by 57 percent sparking the agitation. At a meeting held with the school management today, the parents agreed to an increase of only 10 percent in the fees subject to the management providing drinking water and toilets to students in three months.

Mr. Guduru Sudarshan Reddy, J. Krishna Rao and Mr. G. Venkanna, all Lok Satta Party leaders, were among those who negotiated with the school management.

Resource constraints stymied Lok Satta In elections: Dr. JP

Had the Lok Satta had Rs.40 crore as its election fund, it would have emerged as a significant player in Andhra Pradesh politics today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today.

Addressing a media meet, at which he released a statement of donations received and expenditure incurred by his party during the elections to the Assembly and the Lok Satta, Dr. JP said the party was handicapped by paucity of resources in engendering confidence about its fighting mettle. Although the party succeeded in taking its message to the public, it could not whip up a wind in its favor because of its low-key campaign.

Dr. JP pointed out that a political party cannot function without resources. “Honest politics needs honest money. The party accepted donations only by cheque, accounted for every rupee it spent and placed the facts before the public.”

Dr. JP called upon leaders of competence and integrity from all walks of life to make the Lok Satta their forum for bettering people’s lives.

The party was introducing executive membership with a view to making the party self-sustaining in its day-to-day operations. An executive member has to pay Rs.1000 as fees per year or Rs.100 per month as a token of his owning the party.

On the occasion of 2009 elections, the party received contributions amounting to Rs.3,23,73.900. It incurred a total expenditure of Rs.3,16,01,095 including Rs.2,25,83,670 on electronic and print media. The contributions included those from NRIs. Dr. JP spent a total of Rs.4,92,326 on contesting from Kukatpally to the Assembly.

In reply to a question, Dr. JP said the three traditional parties in Andhra Pradesh would have spent Rs.4000 crore, most of it on inducing voters with cash and liquor, during the elections.

Dr. JP said the Lok Satta would contest the GHMC elections with a clear-cut and practicable agenda. The five promises the party is making are:

  • Supply of safe drinking water in all colonies and bastis which do not have the facility now with the installation of reverse osmosis plants
  • Implementing a citizen’s charter under which failure to attend to a public grievance in a specified period invites penalty on the GHMC
  • Identification and resolution of problems basti-colony wise and implementation of a division agenda in three phases – 100 days, one year and five years respectively.
  • Devolution of GHMC funds at the rate of Rs.2 crore for each division every year, so that an elected divisional committee could spend it on attending to pressing local problems
  • Integration of the functioning of the GHMC, Metrowater and Urban Development Authority

“We have the clarity of purpose, determination, competence and integrity to deliver on our promises. We can make Hyderabad a truly get city worthy of our heritage. Right now, the city is on the verge of paralysis with poor water supply, inadequate drainage and sewerage, and nightmarish traffic. This election should serve as a wake up call, and all youth, women, middle classes and the poor should join hands to transform our city”, said Dr. JP.

In reply to a question, Dr. JP said his party would consider an alliance with other parties in the GHMC elections provided there is total agreement on the agenda for the city, and there is willingness to practice ethical politics.

Mr. V. Vijayender Reddy, Lok Satta Secretary and Mr. Nandipeta Ravinder, President, Greater Hyderabad Lok Satta unit, flanked Dr. JP.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Amend anti corruption law, Dr. JP suggests to CM

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has in a letter asked Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy to translate his intent to put an end to corruption by amending the Prevention of Corruption Act, which suffered from many lacunae.

Releasing copies of Dr. JP’s letter, party spokesmen Dr. P. Bhaskara Rao and G. Raja Reddy told the media that Dr. JP had sent copies of a draft Bill to amend the Act to the Speaker of the Assembly, Chairman of the Legislative Council, Chief Minister, Ministers for Law and Legislative Affairs, and leaders of the TDP, PRP, TRS, MIM, CPI, BJP and CPM in the legislature.

Pointing out that there are now six agencies dealing with public servants’ acts of corruption, Dr. JP said all of their functions should be integrated so that the guilty cannot go unscathed. He suggested that the Anti Corruption Bureau should be made autonomous and brought under the supervision of the Lok Ayukta. He wanted legislators and other elected public representatives to be brought under the ambit of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Dr. JP requested the Chief Minister to convene an all-party conference to discuss measures to eradicate corruption.

Referring to the Intermediate Board’s suspension of principals for low percentage of passes, the party spokesmen said such actions would not serve the purpose. A solution lay in creation of basic amenities in colleges, appointment of more teaching staff and improvement in teaching methods.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lok Satta demands all-party meet On increase in school fees

The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government convene an all-party meeting to hammer out an acceptable solution to the problems parents are facing because of the steep hike in fees in private schools.

Talking to the media, party spokesmen V. Laxman Balaji said the 200-300 percent increase in schools fees had forced many families to run into debts. Even poor and middle class families have no alternative to sending their children to private schools because of Government failure in providing quality education in pubic sector institutions.

Mr. V. Vijayender Reddy, Mr. G. Raja Reddy and Mr. Mohd, Ishaq Khan, party leaders, took part in the media meet.

The Lok Satta also demanded that the Government put an end to the practice of allotting liquor shops to highest bidders. (Excise auctions are scheduled for May). Pointing out that some liquor shops fetched as much as Rs.2 crore each by way of license fees, the Lok Satta leaders said that the successful bidders promoted liquor sales through unauthorized outlets, also known as belt shops. When the matter was raised in the just concluded Assembly session, the Chief Minister repeated his old reply that his attention should be drawn if there were belt shops. The Government was not ashamed of implementing welfare schemes with revenue generated from liquor, which ruined the very people whom it wanted to help.

Commenting on the Assembly proceedings, the party regretted that members of both the Congress and the TDP chose to indulge in mutual recrimination and wasted precious time instead of engaging themselves in meaningful discussion. Although the Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan explained how Andhra Pradesh stood at the bottom among southern States in the human development index, and how it lagged behind some of the Bimaru (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) States, considered economically backward, there was no discussion.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Dr. JP underlines need to restore Service Ethos in bureaucracy

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) today counseled Civil Service entrants to regard their career as an opportunity to serve the public and not to make money.

“Service in armed forces, bureaucracy and politics has long been regarded as a badge of honor and dignity in the U. K. But in India, the ethos of public service in politics has almost vanished while it is compromised in armed forces and the bureaucracy in India.”

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, who quit the IAS to launch the Lok Satta movement 13 years ago and the Lok Satta Party two years ago, was addressing a meeting in Chennai today. Sri Kala Sudha Telugu Association organized the meeting to present ‘Telugu Tejam’ awards to nine students selected for Civil Services. The following are the receipients of the awards... Mr. C. HariKiran (18th rank), Mr. N. Venkatesh (19th rank), Mr. B. Goutham (23rd rank), Mr. U. Krishna Mohan (24th rank), Ms. Dasari Sindhuri (43rd rank), Mr.KR Lavanya Kumar (54th rank), Ms. Akurati Pallavi (55th rank), Mr. D. Prashanthi Reddy (64th rank), Mr. Nanduri Sandeep (91st rank), Mr. P. Srinivasa Reddy (583rd rank). Though visually impaired, Mr. Srinivasa Reddy acheived his goal of civils.

Dr. JP called upon the civil service entrants to appreciate that India is one nation although it is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual. Unless the bureaucracy made a conscious and determined effort to foster national unity and integrated development, parochial tendencies stemming from caste, religion, region and language raise their ugly head and threaten India’s unity and integrity.

Dr. JP, who had observed bureaucracy from close quarters for a decade and half, and made far-reaching recommendations as a member of the Administrative Reforms Commission, regretted that it had become dysfunctional, hierarchical and inward looking. “We cannot allow bureaucracy to degenerate into permanent priesthood. Bureaucrats think they belong to a higher caste order based on their entry into service and not their competence or efficiency in serving the public.”

Dr. JP said the point of entry should not dictate the growth path of an IAS official. One’s growth in career should be determined on one’s competence in delivery of high quality service. “A solution lies in lateral recruitment to all key positions in civil services and fostering of competition among the incumbents.”

“You are the servants of the people and the Constitution and not the party or politicians in power. Let public service be your motto, national unity your goal and creation of equal opportunities for growth to every child irrespective of its accident of birth in a certain caste or family, your sacred duty. Do appreciate that most children in India have not been able to realize their true potential for no fault of theirs, and do your best to go to their assistance”.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Let parties field women in one-third seats: Lok Satta’s alternative

The Lok Satta Party today wholeheartedly welcomed the UPA Government move to provide for reservations to women in legislative bodies as part of its 100-day program.

Addressing a media conference, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan recalled that that a Bill to provide for women’s reservations had been introduced many times in the last 13 years but had not been passed apparently because most parties were not serious about it.

Dr. JP pointed out that the Bill as it is conceived is seriously flawed. The Bill proposes reservation of one-third seats for women and the rotation of such reserved seats once in every general election. As a result, two-thirds of incumbents will be forcibly unseated in every general election. When male incumbents are forced out, they field their womenfolk as proxies and hinder development of natural leadership. “Such compulsory unseating violates the very principles of democratic representation and jeopardizes the possibility of any legislator choosing a constituency and nursing it. When legislators do not have the incentive to seek re-election from the same constituency, politics will become more predatory and unaccountable. The Bill in its present form is silent about women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils. In addition, the Bill warrants a constitutional amendment.”

Studying all these, the Lok Satta had as early as 1999 presented an alternative for consideration by all political parties. It calls for an amendment to the Representation of the People Act making it mandatory for every recognized political party to field women candidates in one-third of constituencies. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in States or constituencies where the party’s chances of winning are weak, the Lok Satta proposes that each party should consider the State as a unit for fielding women candidates in elections to the Lok Sabha. In other words, a party has to field one-third of women candidates in every State. A party’s failure to field the requisite number of women entails a penalty. For the shortfall of every woman candidate, the party cannot field male candidates in two constituencies.

The Lok Satta Bill proposes that for reservation of seats for women in a State Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies.

Dr, JP said that the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act should be amended to provide for reservation of one-third of seats to women in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils.

The Election Commission had endorsed the Lok Satta Bill, Dr. JP said.

Dr. JP appealed to all political parties to adopt the Lok Satta’s hassle-free and flawless proposal, and ensure adequate representation to women in legislatures.

Smt. N. Saroja devi, convenor of Mahila Satta, Party spokespersons Katari Srinivasa Rao and V. Vijayendar Reddy were also participated in the press meet.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Charges against Dr. JP malicious: Lok Satta

Frustrated over the resounding rebuff it received in the 2009 elections and worried over the exodus of its cadre into the Lok Satta, the TDP is resorting to baseless and malicious allegations against the Lok Satta and its founder Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, charged the party today.

The Lok Satta rebutted TDP leader Revanth Reddy’s allegations against Dr. JP point-by-point and said that far from realizing that its opportunistic policies and alliances had led to its debacle, the TDP was insulting voters by faulting them. The voters did not constitute the vote bank of any party and all those who voted for the Lok Satta were opposed to all other parties including the TDP and the Congress.

Talking to the media, party General Secretary G. Malyadri and spokespersons K. Srinivasa Rao, V. Vijayendra Reddy said that the TDP seemed to be unaware of the saying in Telugu that a squint-eyed person is better than a blind person. In the Lok Satta’s opinion, there was little to choose between the Congress and the TDP because they belonged to the same genre and that the voters opted for the lesser evil.

Replying to the query on Lok Satta’s track record in fighting Congress corruption, the Lok Satta leaders recalled the party had demanded the constitution of special courts to try cases of corruption when Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu and Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy traded allegations of massive corruption against each other in the Assembly. Significantly, both the traditional parties chose not to respond to the Lok Satta demand. A fight against corruption need not involve enforcing bandhs and rasta rokos with mobilized crowds.

The credit for exposing the inadequacy of ‘Arogyasri’ – welcomed by all parties and beneficiaries --in providing health for all goes to the Lok Satta. While the Lok Satta launched a large-scale agitation against belt shops, the TDP enacted the farce of an agitation since some of its leaders themselves operated belt shops. The Lok Satta is committed to providing education of corporate college standards to every child irrespective of its caste and religion but is not opposed to corporate education. The Lok Satta did indeed field a candidate in the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat, contrary to the TDP charge. The Lok Satta did not contest in 45 Assembly constituencies including Pulivendula because it could not attract competent candidates who were prepared to fight without inducing voters with money and liquor.

The Lok Satta believes that it should strive to benefit the people to the maximum extent, whichever party happened to be in power. By being a member of the National Advisory Council, Dr. JP had played a pivotal role in the formulation of the Right to Information Act, the Gram Nyayalay Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission and the National Rural Health Mission. He worked closely with BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley when the NDA was in power and offered his constructive suggestions on the Bill to amend the Cooperatives Act during Telugu Desam rule in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Malyadri ,Mr. Srinivasa Rao and Mr. Vijayendra Reddy said that one of every three candidates fielded by the Lok Satta in the 2009 elections happened to be a BC and that the party chose SC candidates even for unreserved seats.

The Lok Satta suggested that the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly be elected unanimously and the Deputy Speaker’s position offered to the Opposition.

Monday, June 01, 2009

TDP resorting to slander, Charges Lok Satta

"We are not surprised by the Telugu Desam Party resorting to slander against our founder President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan", asserted the Lok Satta Party today.

"Parties and forces which ignored and ridiculed us initially are now hitting below our belt as anticipated by us, testifying to the momentum we have gained in the 2009 elections," commented party spokesman Smt G.Pratibha Rao, Katari Srinivasa Rao, Laxman Balaji, Raja Reddy, Vijayendar Reddy and N. Saroja Devi briefed the media today responding to TDP's outburst.

Interacting with the media, they said, "We can understand TDP's frustration over its failure to come to power although it mounted Himalayan efforts. Instead of honestly introspecting, it initially sought to blame other parties and electronic voting machines for its debacle. When its convoluted arguments did not cut ice, It is now attempting to make baseless allegations against Dr. JP."

The Party spokespersons recalled that Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan had launched the Lok Satta Party in 2006 believing that people's lives cannot be transformed unless politics was unshackled from dynastic families, which have turned the noble profession into a lucrative business enterprise. Within a short span of less than three years, the Lok Satta has captured the minds of millions of people all over the State with its clear-cut ideology, practicable program, integrity, sincerity, commitment and competence of its leader Dr. JP to rewrite the grammar of politics.

"We feel humbled by the faith the voters reposed in us spurning irresistible inducements like liquor and money here and now and cash transfers and color televisions in future. We are sorry that we have not been able to translate the unparalleled people's support into votes because of our organizational weaknesses and resource constraints. Instead of blaming others or stars for our performance, we have decided to overcome our weaknesses and make the Lok Satta the driver of politics in the months and years to come."

The Lok Satta Party, they recalled, had offered to join hands with any party, which was prepared to abjure use of liquor and money to induce voters and fielding of candidates with criminal antecedents. Not even one party including the TDP had paid even lip sympathy to our criteria leave alone abiding by them. It was only then the Lok Satta chose to contest the 2009 elections on its own. There was no reason d'etre for the Lok Satta if it were to align with any of the traditional parties, which were not prepared to change a wee bit and were committed only to pursuing politics of corruption.

Refuting TDP charges, they said that the Lok Satta was the only party, which functioned democratically and transparently. Its income and expenditure could be accessed by anybody on the Internet. It was so poor that the expenditure incurred by the party and all its candidates in the elections was less than half of what a traditional party candidate spent in one parliamentary constituency.

Lok Satta spokespersons pointed out that Dr. JP had resigned from the National Advisory Council before launching the party. He did indeed meet the Prime Minister and the UPA Chairperson when he took part in NAC meetings. Lok Satta leaders have excellent personal relationships with all leaders including LK Advani, Arun Jaitely, Venkaiah Naidu, as well as leaders of all political parties in the state. Lok Satta believes that we all belong to one country and we have the common obective of transforming the lives of our people. But to attribute ulterior motives to cordial relations and ordinary courtesies was nothing but an attempt at character assassination.

Lok Satta launches Project 2014

The Lok Satta Party is launching Project 2014 with a view to coming to power in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections and transforming politics and people’s lives. Lok Satta is the only authentic and credible alternative to the politics of corruption and incompetence prevailing now. Among traditional, vote-buying, family - controlled parties, it doesnot matter which party is in power. Nothing changes in people’s lives as long as these parties are elected to office. Plunder, family rule, populism and poverty of ideas are their hallmarks. Perpetuation of poverty is the sad result of their failed policies and poor governance. Lok Satta alone has the will and clarity to transform politics, eradicate poverty and give power to people.

Announcing this at a media conference here today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that the party is going in for a massive restructuring to reflect the changed ground realities.

The Lok Satta Party had generated tremendous enthusiasm and support for the party in sections like the elite, middle classes, youth and women in the 2009 elections. The party, however, could not translate the support into vote because of organizational and resource constraints. At a three-day brainstorming session, the party reviewed its strengths and weaknesses and decided to restructure itself by overhauling membership criteria and co-opting people of integrity and with leadership qualities.

Dr. JP announced that pending the membership drive and elections afresh, all the elected committees now in place would become ad hoc committees. They would be restructured following a detailed district-wise review. Dr. JP disclosed that hereafter there would be three types of members: Associate members who pay Rs.2 for admission, primary members who pay Rs.25 for three years and executive members who pay Rs.100 per month. Executive members will be eligible to contest elections within the party. The party will confer honorary membership on opinion makers who have standing in society and are eager to work for changing politics and transforming people’s lives.

Dr. JP asserted that the Lok Satta is supremely confident of coming to power in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections because, unlike in elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, there won’t be caste-wise polarization of voters nor will there be tactical voting. In addition, the voters would be interested in electing a party that has a clear-cit agenda and competence to solve their day-to-day problems.

The Lok Satta Party’s agenda is unparalleled in that it will straightway devolve Rs.2 crore on each divisional committee from the corporation’s resources to enable it to identify and resolve the people’s immediate needs. It will strive to persuade the State Government to make a per capita grant of Rs.1000 to each divisional committee. The divisional committees will be elected by people. The party will ensure merger of Metro Water Board and the Urban Development Authority with the Municipal Corporation for effective coordination among different authorities and speedy solution to problems pending for many, many years.

The Lok Satta will come up with a division-wise agenda with definite time schedules for implementation. Some problems will be resolved in 100 days, some in one year and some others in five years.