Thursday, January 28, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is taking part in a symposium on ‘Constitutions for Freedom: German and Indian Democracies turn 60’ in New Delhi on Friday, January 29, 2010.
Dr. JP will be making a presentation on ‘Political Parties in India: Representation of People's Will?’
Friedrich Naumann Foundation of Germany and the Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, are jointly organizing the symposium.
Dr. Irmgard Schwaetzer, former German Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairperson, Free Democratic Party, and Prof. Shashikant Jha of the Centre for European Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, are among the other participants. Dr. Rene Klaff, Regional Director, South Asia, of Friedrich Naumann Foundation, will chair the session.
Experts from India and Germany will focus on similarities and peculiarities of the 60-year-old democratic systems in India and Germany with special focus on political parties and federalism, and the challenges they face.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Holding the Government squarely responsible for the hooch tragedy in East Godavari district resulting in loss of 14 lives, the Mahila Satta today demanded that the Government punish not merely excise officials and bootleggers but also the politicians behind them.
In a media statement, Mrs. N. Saroja Devi and Mrs. M. Mahalakshmi, President and Vice-President of the Mahila Satta, recalled that it was not for the first time people had fallen victim to adulterated drinks. Although arrack manufacture stands banned, illegal brewing of arrack and gudumba continues unabated in the State.
The Mahila Satta, they pointed out, had carried on a sustained agitation against the State Government’s excise policy. The Government allowed illegal outlets known as belt shops to proliferate, ignoring the fact that liquor had ruined the lives of nearly 75 lakh families in the State.
The Lok Satta and the Mahila Satta would like the Government to put an end to excise auctions as the highest bidders for liquor outlets promoted belt shops to maximize their sales and profits. The number of liquor outlets should be limited and illegal manufacture of arrack and gudumba be crushed with an iron hand.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Lok Satta President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has underlined the need to give a new meaning to nationalism if freedom were to be meaningful to all,
“Nationalism does not lie in worshipping ‘Bharat mata’ or in raising slogans. Real nationalism lies in ensuring equal growth opportunities to every child irrespective of the accident of its birth in a certain caste or religion. It lies in making the citizen the center of governance and in keeping the nation united overcoming barriers of religion and caste and region and language.”
Addressing a meeting at KBR Park to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the adoption of ‘Janaganamana’ as the national anthem, Dr. JP recalled that failure to realize the significance of nationalism resulted in 16 lakh people dying and 1.5 crore being displaced in communal riots during India’s partition in 1947. Nationalism lies in remembering that we are all inheritors to one civilization, culture, and 5000-year-old history.
Dr. JP regretted that contrary to Rabindranath Tagore’s dream of a nation that holds its head high and is devoid of narrow walls, some forces continue to indulge in actions, which stultify thinking and wisdom and promote antediluvian and foolish trends.
He congratulated Mrs. G. Pratibha Rao and others on organizing the singing of the national anthem early in the morning in a city that wakes up late.
Later, Mahila Satta workers led by Mrs. N. Sarojadevi, Mrs. M. Mahalakshmi and Mrs. K. Gita Murthy garlanded the statue of Rabindranath Tagore in Ravindra Bharati.
However wonderful the Indian Constitution happens to be, it will not serve the people unless they become partners in its implementation, said Lok Satta President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing a gathering after hoisting the national flag at the party headquarters, Dr. JP called for strengthening the third tier of government at the local level so that governance becomes citizen-centric. Decentralization of powers and resources would make the Indian republic strong and invincible.
A large number of Chaitanya Bharati Institute of Technology students joined the Lok Satta Party in the presence of Dr. JP.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today regretted that the well-to-do sections of society which have benefited from the Indian republic focus on its failings instead of its successes and refuse to be part of the solution.
India cannot remain strong, united, democratic, and prosperous unless the enlightened sections of society play an effective role during and between elections. It is tragic that the educated in India kept off the polling booth, unlike in developed countries, whereas the poor here exercised their franchise for whatever reasons. If the young and the educated shed their inertia and take active part in politics, the Indian republic will not merely survive but flourish, Dr. JP said.
Addressing the media on the diamond jubilee of the Constitution, the national anthem and the national flag, Dr. JP said the very survival of the Indian republic for 60 years is a cause for celebration and rejoicing. “Swayed by day-to-day politics, we should not be oblivious to history in the making.” No country is more diverse than India because it is the birthplace for Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and provided a home for Christians, Muslims, and Parsis. It has a mind-boggling number of castes, languages and dialects. Yet, it has survived as a democracy by granting voting rights to every one including women ever since the inception of the Republic for the first time in world history, conducting successful elections and facilitating peaceful change of government, preserving freedoms despite an aberration like Emergency, taking affirmative action for the disadvantaged, and registering a modest economic growth. In contrast, countries like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia broke up the moment the dictators lost hold on their people, while Pakistan broke up and Sri Lanka was ravaged by insurrection on the language issue.
Dr. JP said the Indian republic has registered success in resolving conflicting claims over the national language, facilitating caste-based reservations and in preserving secularism. It has matured as a federation of States. All these are remarkable successes in nation-building by any standards.
Dr. JP said that everything in the Indian republic is not hunky-dory. It has failed to ensure that there is no discrimination based on the accident of the birth of a child in a certain caste or religion. It has abysmally failed in ensuring decent education and quality health care, imparting livelihood skills and providing employment opportunities to all. It has failed in transferring power to people at the grassroots level by strengthening the third tier of government and ushering in citizen centered governance. It has spawned a Pluto-kleptocracy as is evident from reports that there are many bureaucrats in Andhra Pradesh each of whom has amassed wealth worth Rs.1000 crore. Money power today is so powerful that it can destabilize or dictate governments.
Dr. JP said these problems are not intractable if the people in power have the will and determination. Comprehensive electoral reforms, strong and effective regulation of political parties and resolute and ruthless action against the corrupt should be institutionalized. Political parties should refrain from exploiting differences based on religion, caste, region and language to serve their vote bank politics. Instead, they should demolish the narrow domestic walls that Rabindranath Tagore talked of.
Dr. JP is optimistic of the Indian republic surviving not merely for the next 60 years but the next 600 years and flourishing because we have the technology and resources unlike at any time in India’s history. While in the first sixty years we have stabilized as the largest and most diverse republic in human history, in the next sixty years we should emerge as the world’s greatest democratic republic. Will the educated and the enlightened play the role expected of them at least now? he asked.
The 60th anniversary of Indian Republic is a fitting occasion to recollect the spirit of our founding fathers, for which the Constitution of India was the culmination. Responsibility and accountability were the two values of governance that B.R. Ambedkar citied as reasons for preferring parliamentary system to that of presidential one. The architect of the constitution explained that a parliamentary executive, who was dependent on majority in Parliament, would act with more responsibility. He was convinced that, at least as matter of possibility, the daily assessment would be done by members of Parliament, through questions, resolutions, no-confidence motions, adjournment motions and debates on addresses.
Dr. Ambedkar incorporated the values of the national movement, which were embedded in the Constitution of India Bill proposed by Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak in 1895 and the Nehru Report, drafted by a committee under chairmanship of Motilal Nehru in 1928; into the constitution. Civic rights such as universal suffrage and fundamental rights irrespective of the creed, class, caste and gender were results of advocacy by the leaders of national movement.
Despite the successful incorporation of values and standards into the constitution, Ambedkar warned that the state will fail, despite the constitution, if the people and the parties that represent them act irresponsibly. He said, “However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot.”
The values adopted in the foundational cannons of the republic were gradually diluted by unprincipled politics. The result was a severe crisis of governance. The manifestations of this crisis – the all-pervasive inefficient state, increasing lawlessness, directionless populism, ever-growing criminalization and commercialization of polity, excessive centralization, serious erosion of legitimacy of authority, tardy and inefficient justice system – all these are only too evident to all of us.
Root of Crisis - Design of Democracy
Our founding fathers were undoubtedly men and women of great caliber, commitment, depth and understanding. However, the compulsions of establishing and maintaining order at the earliest in the wake of the trauma of partition forced them to opt for continuity in the instruments of governance. Given these cataclysmic events at the time of partition, restoration of order and maintaining the unity and integrity of India were of paramount importance and our leaders understandably opted for continuance of time-tested instruments of governance. Many scholars have pointed out that there is about 80 per cent congruence between the Government of India Act of 1935 and the Indian Constitution of 1950 because of these compulsions.
In addition, the euphoria accompanying the transfer of power led to a general belief that the moment the Indian leaders acquired power, things would automatically improve even with the old instruments of governance. However, the subsequent events belied these hopes. In the early years after the independence, the aura of freedom struggle, the towering stature of the early leaders associated with that struggle, the hope of better things to come and the inadequate understanding of the loopholes in the mechanics of governance ensured certain measure of stability, hope and harmony. As all such hopes are dashed, and persistent rejection of parties in power does not seem to result in any significant tangible improvement, people are increasingly sullen and resentful.
Essentially, the crisis is a result of two major flaws in our governance structure. Firstly, good behavior is not consistently recognised and rewarded by the state and bad behaviour is not checked and punished. In fact, the contrary is true, and there is a strong feeling throughout that corrupt behavior ensures rewards and successes in our system. The second major flaw is the nature of power in governance system and its exercise by the officialdom. If power is defined as the ability to influence events, processes, resources and human behaviour for the larger public good, then such power is severely restricted to state functionaries at every level.
However, if power is defined as pelf, privilege, patronage, petty tyranny, harassment, or nuisance value, then almost all our state functionaries enjoy this negative power in abundance. As a result, all state functionaries have perfectly plausible, rational and realistic explanations and alibis for non-performance. The hapless citizen, who expects results, is perpetually frustrated.
Due to these characteristics, all institutions of state have failed grievously and are on the verge of collapse. This collapse encompasses the political executive, the legislatures, the bureaucracy and the judiciary. None can be blamed in isolation, nor can any segment escape the blame. However, this failure is not because individuals have failed, nor is it because the society lacks values, but it is a result of the fundamental flaws in our governance structure, which make this crisis inevitable.
In the face of the state's failure to optimize results, and its incapacity to check malignant use of power, the citizen is increasingly frustrated. Unlike the elites, who laud the modest accomplishments of state functionaries against heavy odds, the ordinary citizens are deeply discontented as they perceive the vast area of non-performance, and the pervasive insensitivity, corruption and unresponsiveness. As repeated rejection of status quo and voting out the party in power do not yield any positive results, there is increasing frustration, and recourse to violence.
Holistic Reform – The Way Out
The crisis of governability is undoubtedly grave. The nature and magnitude of our problems are daunting. What we are witnessing is the collapse of the Indian Republic. However, the Indian crisis is by no means intractable or immutable. There is no reason why India should inevitably succumb to the spectres of anarchy, authoritarianism which could lead to eventual balkanization of the nation. Over the years, the intractability of the Indian crisis, and the impossibility of successful reform have been overemphasized.
India has the strength, resilience, intellectual and moral resources to respond to this crisis with courage, imagination and creativity. However, we must first recognize that the only realistic and enduring solution to the crisis engulfing the Indian state is a holistic, peaceful, democratic transformation of the republic, with the objective of building at all levels free, self-governing, empowering, self-correcting institutions, capable of maintaining peace and harmony, preserving order and stability, strengthening unity and integrity, enabling freedom and participation and promoting growth and prosperity.
Limitations of Isolated Reforms
Isolated efforts to correct individual ills have largely been frustrated or failed because of the evil engulfing all facets of governance. Even the egalitarian discourses such as inclusive development and governance innovations such as Unique Identity Card would only reduce the absurdity in governance, but will not result in a paradigm shift. No matter how well meaning and necessary an isolated reform is, it will not yield adequate dividends, when it is unaccompanied by the other necessary changes.
In this backdrop, parties with vested interests can argue for status quo citing the failure of the partial reform, can use it against any serious reform. Time and again, isolated, necessary but insufficient reforms have failed to energize the polity and improve the content of our governance. The sporadic attempts to improve conduct of elections, repeated attempts of various Administrative Reforms Commissions, Law Commission Reports, introduction of Panchayati Raj institutions in the 50s, anti-defection acts, 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in the 90s, and efforts like the amendment of the constitution are all examples of sporadic, isolated, insufficient and ultimately ineffective efforts to reform the governance system over the years.
In this all-pervasive crisis of governability, the only realistic way out is a peaceful, democratic, holistic transformation of Indian governance structure. Such a transformation must address the basic processes of power and ensure that truly democratic, self-correcting mechanisms are in place. Every facet of reform must adequately counter the elements of crisis in Indian governance. This includes non-performance on account of the disjunct between vote and welfare of citizens on one hand, and authority and accountability on the other; the incapacity of the administrative and legal structures to reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour consistently; and increasing incompatibility between honesty and survival in political executive office.
In such a comprehensive reform process, each element of reform will reinforce the other elements, bringing out synergies and minimizing risks. A holistic reform also ensures the placing of adequate checks and safeguards against failure of any institution individually. Instead of letting failure at one level lead to failure at other levels, arresting failure quickly and effectively can prevent it from posing a serious damage to the polity. All the elements of transformation of our governance structure, together, must be capable of strengthening every facet of our democracy - freedom, self-governance, empowerment, rule of law and self-correcting institutional framework.
Reform Agenda - Stakes for all
We must always keep in mind that the objective is to transform our governance structure. Such an effort calls for the broadest measure of agreement among all segments of society, irrespective of competing, sometimes conflicting, sectional interests. All segments of society must have stakes in the agenda, and highly divisive and contentious issues must be left to public choice through the normal competitive electoral process. We should aim at creating a truly democratic framework that offers a platform for various ideologies and policy options to be discussed, debated and chosen by the people from time to time. It necessarily follows that policy issues should be left out of the national reform agenda. To be precise, those issues that have a bearing on the basic process of governance and the five ingredients of democracy - freedom, self- governance, empowerment of people, rule of law and self correcting institutional frame work, should constitute the agenda for democratic reform.
Those issues which have no universality in their application and form part of the `zero sum game', whereby one segment gains at the cost of the other, must be excluded from the reform agenda and must be left to the competing political forces of the day. Only the essential principles of democracy, the basic rules of governance and constitutional safeguards are sacrosanct and non-negotiable and must be constitutionally sanctified in order to provide the basic framework for competing political parties and individuals to acquire power and pursue those policies which have the broadest measure of public support from time to time. The reform agenda has to be minimalist and non-partisan, and must deliberately eschew highly contentious and divisive issues, so that the widest measure of consensus is possible. It must be practical and rooted in the Indian ethos, and must take into account our experience of working of the Constitution so far.
Democracy should become the philosophical basis for the reforms of governance, which can make it responsive. Freedom is the right of any individual to do as she pleases as long as her actions do not impinge on the freedom of others. The Indian state can be ranked, over all, quite high in terms of freedom its citizens enjoy. However, there are serious limitations to enjoyment of freedom for the bulk of our poor due to inadequate resources and skills, which is a result of the failure of the Indian state. Each citizen should be provided with the opportunities, which enables him to be free in every aspect of life.
Self-governance is the right of citizens to govern themselves directly or indirectly. What happened in 1947 was mere transfer of power from the colonial masters to the indigenous oligarchies. In our anxiety to preserve unity and order at all costs, we accepted centralization of power and bureaucratization, and marginalised the role of the people. As a result, self-governance is limited to an occasional exercise of franchise, when permitted by the local bigwigs. As the choice is often between Tweedledom and Tweedledee, this franchise has no real impact on the outcome, and self-governance became largely illusory. Proper implementation of the existing constitutional and legal provisions should be the first step in this direction.
Empowerment is the ability of citizens to influence the course of events on a sustained basis and make meaningful decisions on matters of governance that impact their own lives. In a highly bureaucratized and centralized milieu most local institutions are beyond the reach of stake-holders' influence, as stake-holders and power-wielders are distinct. Hence, empowerment of citizens is at a low-level.
The local school, Primary Health Centre, or civic services - are all beyond citizen's influence. The local public servant is unaccountable to people, and is often their master, rather than their servant. Many procedures are rigid, incomprehensible and highly formalized, preventing access to, and influence by, most ordinary citizens. Citizens should be given utmost importance in decision making on each aspect of governance, and no decision shall preclude just demands of citizens.
Rule of law is the concept of people being governed by law, and all citizens, irrespective of station and rank, being subject to the same laws to the same extent. It is the basis of all democratic governance, and all our institutions, including the executive and judiciary, swear by it. However, in reality, the centralised autocratic functioning of the political parties, the flawed electoral system, highly secretive, opaque functioning, the ubiquitous patronage system, the all-pervasive corruption and the excruciating delays in obtaining justice in law courts - all these made sure that the people with access to power, muscle and means are more equal than the ordinary citizens. As a result, rule of law has been given the go by in most cases and most citizens have resigned themselves to lives of indignity and quiet desperation.
Self-correction is the ability of institutions of state to constantly learn from past experience and improve them selves in order to serve the people better. No design is ever perfect and no system, however well-constructed, can ever conceive of all possible eventualities, and provide for them. In any reasonably efficient and responsive governance structure, there must be a high degree of flexibility and self-correcting mechanism, so that the system is functional. In India , almost all institutions of state have become moribund and dysfunctional. There is no real self-correction visible on an enduring basis or in a meaningful manner.
Any reform that does not factor in the ideals of democracy can have serious repercussions. The failure of reforms initiated in the past should not prevent us from initiating reforms in governance. Reforms do not necessarily bring in progress, but no progress is possible minus well thought of, well meant reforms.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
The Lok Satta Party will be ascertaining public opinion on ways of resolving the present political crisis in Andhra Pradesh by conducting a gram sabha in Kota voorutla village in Visakhapatnam district at 9-00 a.m. and organizing an open forum at the Visakhapatnam Press Club at 4-00 p.m. tomorrow, January 19.
Talking to the media party spokespersons V. Vijayender Reddy, E. Chennayya, N. Saroja Devi said that similar exercises will be carried out in Warangal district on January 23 and in Kurnool district on January 24.
The Lok Satta Party has undertaken the exercise to work out a solution acceptable to all regions in the State since the conflicting demands for the formation of Telangana and for keeping the State united cannot be accommodated simultaneously.
The spokespersons announced the party would be celebrating the diamond jubilee of the national anthem, ‘Janaganamana’ on January 24, 2010 by organizing programs aimed at promoting nationalism.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the greatest tribute we can pay to Marxist leader Jyoti Basu is to imbibe his qualities of extraordinary moderation and restraint, and reconciliation of conflicting interests and steadfast adherence to the middle path in a diverse society like India.
In a tribute, Dr. JP described Mr. Jyoti Basu as one of the tallest leaders in post-independent India and his demise is a loss to the entire nation, and not merely to West Bengal. It would be an insult to Mr. Jyoti Basu to measure his greatness by the length of his tenure in office. He should be assessed on the nature of politics he pursued amidst the culture of tremendous viciousness, short-termism and instant gratification.
Mr. Jyoti Basu, he said, was one of the key architects of the coalition era in India. Although wedded to Marxism, Mr. Jyoti Basu had the wisdom and foresight to realize his limitations and build bridges of friendship between political islands in the interests of national stability and welfare. A nationalist to the core, Mr. Jyoti Basu rejected extremities in politics because he knew that the follies committed by those in power would have profound and long-lasting repercussions. He mastered the art of exercising power with restraint.
On behalf of the Lok Satta Party, Dr. JP expressed profound grief over Mr. Jyoti Basu’s demise and conveyed condolences to the bereaved family, party colleagues, friends, admirers, and supporters.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Lok Satta today termed the Andhra Pradesh plea for devolution of resources to the State instead of districts as highly retrograde.
Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao, who represented Chief Minister K. Rosaiah at the State Finance Ministers’ conference in New Delhi on January 13, wanted the Union Government to earmark funds under Centrally sponsored schemes directly to the State Government instead of to districts.
Talking to the media here today, Lok Satta Party leaders Dr. P. Bhaskar Rao, N. Saroja Devi pointed out that the reason adduced by the State for its request was strange to say the least. The State Government contended it had no idea of the allocations to districts under different schemes. Instead of asking for copies of funds allocation orders under different schemes, the State would like to deprive districts of direct central funding.
Although the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, enacted more than 15 years ago, provided for devolution of resources and powers on local governments, the State Government has not implemented them. Given to centralization of power, successive Governments are not prepared to strengthen governance at the third tier.
Administration in the State would not have come to a standstill had the third tier of Government d been strengthened, the Lok Satta leaders said. Victims of 2009 October floods continued to live in make-shift tents even to this day. Bulk of the NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) remained unutilized. Students went without fee reimbursement.
The Party leaders recalled that the Lok Satta had been fighting for formation of district, city and village governments and devolution of powers, personnel and resources on them. When power vests in elected people’s committees, they need not run from pillar to post to get their problems resolved.
The Lok Satta leaders hoped that during his review of developmental programs in districts, the Chief Minister would take notice of the importance of decentralization of power for effective governance.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Yuva Satta leaders in Andhra Pradesh today appealed to the youth all over the State not to be swayed by emotions based on caste and religion, region and language and resort to violent agitations.
“There is no problem that is intractable and there is no problem that cannot be resolved by honest and realistic debate and discourse,” they told their counterparts all over the State.
Yuva Satta utilized National Youth Day today to promote amity among people in the three trouble-torn regions of the State.
State Yuva Satta President Dasari Ratnam pointed out that the youth who constitute 73 percent of the country’s population should take the lead in transforming India. They should not be deterred by politics of money and muscle power.
If India has not developed to its true potential, it is because a vast majority of youth has been denied quality education and health care, livelihood skills and employment opportunities. The traditional parties have turned the noble profession of politics into a lucrative, dynastic business. The youth should, therefore, revolt against the present system and build a new society in which every one would have equal opportunities for growth and no one goes through avoidable suffering.
The youth leaders, carrying placards calling for inter-regional amity, garlanded the statue of Swami Vivekananda on Tank Bund, and distributed clothes to pavement dwellers in Dissukhnagar. Among those who took part in the activities today were Yuva Satta GHMC President Ravinder Reddy, Mangala, Sivaji, Ramu, Ramalinga Reddy, Sridhar and Srinivasa Reddy.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has conveyed his greetings to the youth on the eve of National Youth Day (January 12) and said it is time the youth of India built an India full of freedom and opportunity and without fear or prejudice.
Dr. JP pointed out that 73 percent of Indians are below 35 years of age and the youth account for 92 percent of person years. “The youth today have idealism, passion and ability. The present generation is second to none in its capacity to build the country. And for the first time in human history, the present generation has the resources and technology to realize its dreams. Building a society that ensures opportunities for every child to realize its potential and eliminates all avoidable suffering should be the duty and responsibility of every young India. In the present age and day, there shall be no discrimination against any child on the basis of its birth circumstances or its region or religion, caste or language or even nationality.”
The youth, Dr. JP said, should take inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore, who said,
"Let my country awake into that heaven of freedom,
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls”
Saturday, January 9, 2010
United States based "People for Lok Satta" organisation (peopleforloksatta.org) has welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement that NRIs would be able to vote in the 2014 general elections. In a statement released here today, People for Lok Satta said that it had been fighting for such a right for the last one year.
"Many times, the names are removed from the list by the authorities with the assumption that NRIs are not available in India for voting. We strongly feel that the duel citizenship holders should also exercise their vote because of their contributions for development of India. And unfortunately this provision is not there due to the present rules" it said. PFL teams in Boston, Houston, California campaigned regarding this and we had tremendous response from the NRI community.
The proposed measure would enable NRIs to play an active role in changing the political culture in India, it said.
Friday, January 8, 2010
With normalcy and peace gaining ground gradually in the trouble-torn Telanagana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of the State, the Lok Satta is taking the initiative to ascertain public opinion on the political crisis and how an honorable settlement acceptable to all can be hammered out.
Party spokespersons Mr. V.Laxman Balaji, Mrs. K. Geetha Murthy told the details here in a media conference today.
The Lok Satta will carry out the exercise in two phases. In the first phase, three teams comprising three or four members of the party’s Core Committee will visit three districts each for three days in Telangana, excluding Hyderabad. The teams will interact with party leaders and workers in districts and workers in districts on the conflicting demands for forming Telangana State and for keeping the State united, and on the ways of finding a peaceful, acceptable solution.
In the second phase, 30 members of the Core Committee, drawn from all the three regions in the State, will visit Visakhapatnam, Kurnool and Warangal, visit a nearby village, conduct a gram sabha and ascertain people’s views on the political crisis. The same day, they will organize an open forum of discussion in the three district headquarters.
The two-pronged exercise aims at finding out how the interests of the other regions can be taken care of if Telangana State were to be formed and how the problems and aspirations of Telangana are to be addressed if the State were to be kept united.
The Lok Satta Party has all along maintained that not even God can fulfill the rival demands for Telangana formation and an integrated Andhra Pradesh simultaneously. A permanent settlement acceptable to all regions of the State has to be worked out only through negotiations. The Lok Satta Party believes that a win-win solution cannot emerge unless all the stakeholders are prepared to adopt a give-and-take approach. The Lok Satta, therefore, is trying to delineate the broad contours of a possible settlement after discussions with people at the grassroots, and district-level opinion leaders.
The following are the members of teams who will be going round Telangana districts from January 8 to 12:
Adilabad, Warangal and Karimnagar: G. Raj Reddy, M. Satyanarayana, and P. Ravi Maruth
Ranga Reddy and Nizamabad: N. Ravinder, Bandaru Rammohan Rao, Mrs. D. Lakshmi and Mrs. Y. Ramadevi
Khammam, Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda: V. Vijayender Reddy, E. Chennaiah and P. Bhaskara Rao
Mr. Y. D. Rama Rao, Mr. Vijayender Reddy and Raj Reddy will organize the 30-member team’s visit to Visakhapatnam on January 19, Kunrool on January 21. and Warangal on January 23.
Mr. V. Ramachandraiah, chairman of the Party’s disciplinary committee, said that he had issued notices to Mr. K. Dharma Reddy, Mr. M. Jaswanth Reddy, Mr. Nagaraju and Mr. Trivedi, asking them to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them for abusing and attempting to physically assault colleagues recently at the Party headquarters. Pending their explanation they had been stripped of their responsibilities.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Political parties in the State should share the responsibility with the State Government and the RTC for the hefty increase in fares, said the Lok Satta Party here today.
Talking to the media, party Vice President Y. D. Rama Rao, General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao and Secretary Ravi Maruth pointed out that the parties which had indulged in competitive damage to and destruction of buses and disruption of services in the name of rasta rokos and bandhs and forced the hike in fares were indulging in hypocrisy by launching a movement for a rollback of the fares. The parties should realize at least now that it is the common man that has to pay a price ultimately for the destruction indulged in by parties. Political parties should come up with alternative forms of protest to bandhs and rasta rooks.
The Lok Satta leaders underlined that by raising the fares abnormally, the RTC was unwittingly driving the people to switch from public to private transport. Proliferation of private vehicles would merely worsen the already chaotic and clogged transport system in urban areas.
That the RTC Managing Director reportedly decided on hiking fares without taking the Transport Minister and the Chief Minister into confidence mirrored the chaos that had overtaken administration, said the Lok Satta leaders.
The Lok Satta leaders wanted the RTC to withdraw the fare hike and focus on augmenting its revenue by focusing on alternative sources like plugging leakages in cargo and parcel transport.
The Lok Satta Party leaders also took at a dig at parties which vied with one another in fomenting hatred among people on the basis of religion, region, caste and language and turned a blind eye to aspects like education ahd health care which had a great bearing on people’s lives. That students in only 261 of the total 64,860 primary and upper primary schools in Andhra Pradesh are in a position to read and write flawlessly underlined the sorry state of affairs. According to a Rajiv Education Mission study, there are as many as 14 districts with less than 10 good schools. Successive Governments’ criminal negligence accounts for the deterioration in educational standards.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
“Governance in Andhra Pradesh has slackened in many fields and remains paralyzed in some”, the Lok Satta said today, and added that “if the situation continues like this for some more time it amounts to a Constitutional breakdown.”
Talking to the media, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that any Government has to maintain law and order and public security, ensure that development takes place and life goes on an even keel. But in Andhra Pradesh today, the Cabinet has virtually ceased to function and the administration remains paralyzed. The politics of competitive disruption indulged in by most parties in all the regions of the State has done irreparable damage to the interests of all people.
Bandhs, rasta rokos and rail rokos have disrupted marketing activities to the detriment of both consumers and producers. Daily wage earners, vegetable vendors and hawkers have not been able to eke out their precarious livelihood. Indulging in forms of agitation that hurt the ordinary citizen to draw the Government of India’s attention to their respective points of view is nothing but cutting the nose to spite the face.
Dr. JP said that the vast majority of people who would like to lead peaceful harmonious lives have become victims in the parties’ political games. The media and civil society should shed their silence and speak up for the ordinary citizen.
Dr. JP also took exception to threats being hurled against each other by agitators in all the regions. Coercion and violence have no place in a democracy. People should speak to each other and not scream and shout at each other. Rabble rousing should give way to reasoned discourse.
Dr. JP appealed to all parties to help restore peace and normalcy and facilitate a dialogue on the political crisis in the State.
Dr. JP pointed out that licentiousness had characterized the month-long agitation in all regions of the State. Now that the Government of India had initiated the consultation process, all parties and other organizations including the media should desist immediately from promoting hatred and fueling tensions.
He quoted French writer and philosopher Voltaire who said, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it” to underline that political parties should try to understand each other’s point of view instead of fulminating at each other.
Welcoming the consultation process initiated by the Union Government, Dr. JP said that every one should realize that even Home Minister Chidamabaram is no magician to produce a rabbit out of a hat. Since the demands for carving out a separate Telangana State and keeping the State united could not be simultaneously conceded, a settlement should be arrived at through reasoned discourse.
Dr. JP suggested that the present crisis in Andhra Pradesh should be utilized by the Government of India and national parties to strengthen the third tier of government with devolution of powers and resources on district and local governments. That is the only way in which people’s aspirations can be fulfilled, the country’s unity preserved and good governance ensured. In such a setup, the Government of India and the local Governments will be handling 40 percent of resources each and States, the remainder of 20 percent.
Dr. JP said that the disciplinary committee of the party would go into the behavior of certain party leaders who sought to create trouble at the party headquarters. The party’s constitution clearly spells out that it does not encourage any distinctions based on region and religion and caste and language. Mr. G. Raja Reddy, General Secretary, said that the TRS had no right to demand Dr. JP’s resignation from the legislature. Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao said there was no truth in reports in certain sections of the media that the party denied its meeting hall to certain party workers. Prior clearance had not been taken for the meeting. Yet, the party allowed the meeting to take place.