Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Lok Satta Party has asked the State Government to clear all tuition fee reimbursement and scholarship dues and spare students from further avoidable agony.
Party leaders Eeda Chennayya and P. Hanumantha Rao said in a statement that no deserving student should be denied access to higher education because of his/her inability to afford it.
They wanted the Government to act with foresight and prevent such situations from arising in future.
The Makkal Shakthi Katchi (meaning party of people’s power) has decided to function as the Lok Satta Party unit in Tamil Nadu.
An eight-member delegation, comprising members of the party’s Steering Committee, called on Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan at the Lok Satta Party headquarters here and discussed modalities for taking the party forward.
Most of the one-year-old Makkal Shakthi Katchi members had been active in Makkal Shakthi Iyakkam founded by Mr. Udaya Murthy in 1988. They came out of the movement and founded the political party. They even contested in three by-elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly in the last one year.
The delegation comprised Messrs Senthil Arumugam, Prabhakar, Uday Kumar, Shiva Shankar, Shiva Ilango, Satish, Stayaraj and Mohan.
According to Mr. Senthil, the Makkal Shakthi Katchi will hereafter be the Lok Satta’s Tamil Nadu unit.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today asked the Chief Minister to take up the third phase of the Krishna drinking water scheme to quench the thirst of citizens in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation area. “Please do not stand on false prestige and persist with costly and time-consuming plans like bringing water from River Godavari to Hyderabad.”
In a media statement, Dr. JP recalled that Hyderabad City has already been drawing 11 TMC ft of water from the Nagarjunasagar reservoir across the Krishna and supplying 180 million gallons a day (mgd) to its citizens. The scheme, implemented in two phases, has brought great relief to the city. Implementation of the planned third phase at a cost of Rs.600 crore will facilitate the drawing of another 5.5 TMC ft. from Nagarjunasagar and supplying an additional 90 mgd to the city.
The drying up of Osman Sagar, one of the main drinking water sources of Hyderabad, this year has deprived the citizens of 15 mgd of drinking water for the last few weeks. Had the Government not abandoned the third phase of the Krishna scheme, the citizens would have been spared avoidable agony.
Dr. JP said the Government could complete the Krishna drinking water scheme in less than two years and resolve the recurring drinking water problem in Greater Hyderabad at least for the next five years. Hyderabad would not go through the pangs of a drinking water crisis even during a worst drought year because there is always 180 TMC ft of water as dead level storage at Nagarjunasagar.
In contrast, Dr. JP pointed out there is no reservoir across the Godavari from where the Government could tap water for supply to Hyderabad. The Godavari scheme involves lifting of water over great heights and its transmission over long distances. Costing Rs.3500 crore, it takes many years for completion. The Government has already spent a few hundred crores of rupees on the Godavari scheme in the last couple of years without a single drop of water percolating to the city.
Dr. JP hoped that Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, known for prudent fiscal management, would not throw good money after bad money. “Do not be misled by people who are pushing costly projects for personal gain and not out of consideration for the thirsty Hyderabad citizens,” Dr. JP told Mr. Rosaiah.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Lok Satta attacks irrational, arbitrary oil policy, Demands subsidy for public transportation (Telugu)
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today asked the Government of India to subsidize diesel consumption by public road transport systems and the Railways.
Commenting on the deregulation of petrol prices and a hike in diesel, kerosene and LPG prices, Dr. JP said that the public road transport systems consumed about 500 crore liters and the Railways about 250 crore liters of diesel a year. If the Government extended a subsidy of say Rs.10 per liter consumed by these two major transport systems, the burden on the exchequer would not exceed Rs.7500 crore, hardly 10 percent of the Rs, 74000 crore subsidy the Government is extending as of now.
Pointing out that the Government subsidy policy has been ad hoc, arbitrary and irrational, Dr. JP suggested provision of fixed subsidy on both kerosene and LPG. The Government could bring down kerosene consumption and the subsidy burden on it by supplying solar paneled LED lamps to the poor. It could promote mass transport by buses with excise duty relief.
He wanted the Government to promote public transport by extending diesel subsidy and by undertaking capital works in urban areas. Such a policy will minimize the burden on the common person and contribute to economic growth. The Government should realize that people go in for their own vehicles because the public transport system in India is in a shambles.
Dr. JP is communicating his ideas to the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Oil and Gas Minister, and the Planning Commission.
The Lok Satta Party is organizing training classes for its district leaders to galvanize them for the municipal elections scheduled to take place soon.
Party senior leaders will be imparting the training for three days beginning tomorrow (June 26, 2010) at four places in the State – Hyderabad (for Telangana districts), Visakhapatnam (North Coastal Andhra including East Godavari) Ongole (South Coastal Andhra) and Tirupati (Rayalaseema districts).
Messrs G. Raja Reddy, P. Bhaskara Rao, and Karthik Chandra will be the master trainers in Hyderabad, D. V. V. S. Varma, Y. D. Rama Rao and Bhisetty Babji in Visakhapatnam, Katari Srinivsara Rao, P. Panduranga Rao and Madhav in Ongole and V. Vijayender Reddy, Bandaru Ramamohana Rao and Venkata Ramana in Tirupati.
The training will encompass preparation of ward manifestos with specific solutions to people’s day-to-day problems, importance of promoting voting in local elections and campaign against unbridled liquor consumption.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The Lok Satta Party will take the initiative to lead a delegation to the Prime Minister to demand a comprehensive amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Announcing this in a media statement, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that monumental and growing corruption in India has made it the laughing stock in the comity of nations. India cannot accomplish its dream of becoming a super power by ignoring the omnipresent and omnipotent corruption.
The immediate provocation for the Lok Satta initiative is the resignation by Justice Santosh Hegde as Karnataka Lokaykta protesting against the Karnataka Government’s failure to honor its recommendations, reinstatement of officials suspended for corruption and harassment of Lokayukta employees for their role in ferreting out corruption.
Dr. JP spoke to Justice Santosh Hegde to express his solidarity with him even as a Karnataka Lok Satta Party delegation was to call on the Karnataka Governor to protest against its hostile attitude towards the highly respected institution.
“The resignation of Justice Hegde, a valiant fighter against corruption, eloquently testifies to Karnataka Government’s moral bankruptcy,” said Dr. JP. He recalled that Karnataka had been more fortunate than other States in that eminent jurists like Justice Venkatachala earlier and Justice Santosh Hegde until now, both Justices of the Supreme Court, had occupied the Lokayukta position. The previous Congress Government and the present BJP Government made the institution toothless by denying it powers, resources, and personnel. The situation in other States including Andhra Pradesh is much worse, said Dr. JP.
It is tragic that both the Union and State Governments are allowing corruption to flourish at a time the U. S. Government has successfully bent the Swiss banking giant to reveal the names of American tax dodgers who stashed away their black money with it.
The Lok Satta-led delegation to the Prime Minister will seek an amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act providing for the creation of a Lokpal /Rashtriya Lokayukta headed by a jurist of the rank of a former Chief Justice of India. It should have jurisdiction over the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation and similar agencies and be armed with powers and resources to inquire into corruption indulged in by all Central Government officials and elected people’s representatives barring the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, and the higher judiciary. Chief Ministers will, however, come under its purview.
The amendment will also provide for the creation of an empowered Lokayukta at the State level with jurisdiction over all anti corruption agencies including the Anti Corruption Bureau and the Vigilance Commission and authority to go into cases of corruption against all State Government employees and elected people’s representatives other than the Chief Minister.
Both the Lokpal/Rashtriya Lokayukta at the national level and the Lokayukta at the State level will have powers to order seizure and confiscation of ill-gotten wealth pending an inquiry.
Dr. JP said that Justice Santosh Hegde’s resignation should spur all right-thinking people to take corrective action before it is too late. Corruption further impoverishes the already poor people and hurts economic growth and investments. As a signatory to the International Convention against Corruption, India cannot hold its high so long as it adopts an amoral attitude to corruption.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today underlined the need for the establishment of an independent agency to rate healthcare providers on the quality of their services.
Launching ‘manahealthcare.com’, a portal giving details of healthcare facilities in Hyderabad to begin with, Dr. JP said public, private and voluntary institutions have to work together to make quality healthcare available to all. He pointed out that 85 percent of healthcare providers in the U. S. are ‘no-profit’ entities.
Mere provision of healthcare services would not guarantee healthcare, said Dr. JP and referred to supply of contaminated drinking water even in upmarket localities like Banajara Hills and Jubilee Hills. How could you ensure good health without making available safe drinking water and eradicating mosquito menace even in Hyderabad, the 37th largest city in the world, he asked.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
“Set aside parties and vote for the best candidate among contestants in the by-elections to the Assembly in Telangana,” the Lok Satta Party advised its party workers today.
The Lok Satta announced that it is not in the by-election race as the atmosphere is not conducive to spreading its thought-provoking ideology that takes care of the interests of all.
Talking to the media, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, V. Laxman Balaji and Bandaru Rammohan Rao said that the party, after wide-ranging consultations, had decided to keep off the elections for two reasons. One, the prevailing tense situation will not permit it promote a healthy debate on safeguarding the interests of all sections of the people. Second, engaged as it is in finding a solution acceptable to all it is not fair for the Lok Satta to contest elections taking place precisely on the bifurcation issue.
Since all parties engaged in the by-elections are either whipping up regional animosities or spreading falsehoods, the Lok Satta would advise its supporters to transcend parties and opt for candidates with integrity, commitment, and record of service.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The Lok Satta Party is getting ready to contest municipal elections whenever they are held, announced party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, V.Lakshman Balaji and V.Vijayender Reddy at a media conference here today.
The party will be organizing training classes for local leaders and prospective contestants from July 1 to 10 in 40 municipalities and eight municipal corporations in the first phase. The party is holding training classes for master trainers from June 25 to 27. State party leaders will train the master trainers belonging to Telangana districts in Hyderabad, Rayalaseema districts in Tirupati, South Coastal Andhra districts in Ongole and North Coastal Andhra districts including East Godavari in Visakhapatnam.
The party’s main election plank is formation of ward governments. It will formulate ward manifestos and educate voters on the importance of exercising their franchise as a means to fashion their lives.
The party leaders hoped the Government would not defer the elections trotting out some excuse or the other, as some media reports hinted at, since it would be unconstitutional.
The Lok Satta leaders disclosed that the party had finalized its course of action after extensive discussions within the party on June 17 and 18.
The party decided to carry on its movement for restricting liquor consumption by joining hands with other political parties, NGOs and women’s associations. It will carry on the campaign in a sustained manner in at least one mandal in each district.
On the implementation of the Right to Education Act, the party leaders said that party units are surveying the situation prevailing at the ground level. An action program will be drawn up once the party headquarters receives their reports by the month-end.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Lok Satta President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is taking part in a workshop on organized by the Planning Commission in New Delhi on June 19, 2010.
Dr. JP left for Delhi today at the invitation of Planning Commission’s Member-Secretary Sudhir Pillai.
The next five-year-plan aims at faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth, a concept paper from Mr. Sudhir Pillai says. It envisages nine to 10 percent growth in the GDP, sustainable use of natural resources, and social justice and poverty alleviation.
What is heartening from the Lok Satta point of view is that the plan lays stress on education, health care, skill development and job creation, besides good governance, agriculture and infrastructure.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wiser from experience and after deep introspection, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today announced a fundamental and radical shift in its strategy to convert the abundant goodwill it enjoys among people into votes in the next five to ten years.
Unlike in the past, the party would focus on a few key issues and that too in select areas as experience had taught it that change could not be wrought overnight, Dr. JP told a meeting of party leaders from all over the State.
Dr. JP pointed out that India could have access to Apple’s iPad almost immediately after its launch in the U. S. But it has taken 14 years of sustained struggle for the Lok Satta to be on the verge of realizing its dream of empowering local governments. The Lok Satta, which he described as an accidental party, erred in assuming that people were ready to embrace fundamental political transformation change and what all they needed was an alternative, ethical platform. Three years after it came into existence, the party realized the task was not as easy as it presumed and it had to strengthen society and mobilize people.
“This is no cause for despair or disappointment. Elections, votes,and seats in the short term are not the be all and end all of the Lok Satta.”
“There is not an iota of doubt that the future belongs to the Lok Satta. Both the traditional parties are steeped in crisis. While the Congress Party has no credible leadership, the TDP has no credible policies. In contrast, the Lok Satta has gained more credibility and political space as it is sincere and consistent in articulating and sticking to its core philosophy.”
Dr. JP candidly admitted the party, for want of experience, visualized an ambitious agenda in the belief that conditions were conducive for its implementation. For instance, it planned to open 1000 citizen service centers at the rate of one in each mandal. It succeeded in opening about 150 centers but of them only one functioned effectively.
Dr. JP asked party workers to reconcile themselves to the fact that it would take years for them to realize their dream of transforming society. Since they had limited resources and energies, they should focus their attention on a few issues and in a phased manner to have the maximum impact. “The real challenge is to build leadership at all levels in society.”
He wanted party workers to undertake a mass contact program on issues like people’s needs like drinking water and power, opportunities in education and healthcare, empowerment of local governments and elimination of corruption. The party has tentatively identified 37 municipalities and 20 mandals where it will carry on a sustained movement to educate and enlighten people and enlist them in addressing their problems in the first phase.
Dr. JP announced that he himself would undertake a tour and take part in round-table conferences at the district level in a bid to address people’s problems which transcend political differences. “Let us be ambitious in respect of long-term goals but be realistic in focusing on deliverable agenda.”
He counseled party workers not to be rattled by attempts of parties like the TDP and the BJP to hijack the Lok Satta agenda on restraining liquor consumption. “We should be willing to work with every party and group in pursuit of public good. We should welcome collaboration on issues like liquor control, education. and anti-corruption law. The party should be above private interests, and the national interest is always above the party’s interests,” he emphasized.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today enjoys people’s admiration and appreciation because it does not stray from its core ideology and philosophy even in times of crisis but translating it into vote remains an uphill task, said its President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
“The future belongs to us but we can realize it with sustained struggle and not wishful thinking,” Dr. JP told party leaders in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
Dr. JP recalled how the Lok Satta’s 14-year-old campaign for empowering local governments is about to become a reality with the Government of India and political parties arriving at a broad consensus on making Constitutional amendments.
Dr. JP pointed out that it is easy to transplant technology but difficult to replicate institutional reforms. It took 26 years even in a country like the U. S. to institutionalize TV debates among Presidential aspirants.
The Lok Satta President underlined that India has the demographic advantage and technological resources to leap forward economically in the next one decade. The Lok Satta has to provide the platform and compass for ushering in the certain change.
Dr. JP called upon party workers to undertake a mass contact program to educate and enlighten people on the desirable and feasible changes in the polity. Now that Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections are out of the way, they should identify people’s problems and strive to resolve them.
Party Election Authority Chairman V. Ramachandraiah, Great Hyderabad unit Incharge A. B. Prathap Reddy, M. Ramalinga Reddy and A. B. Srinivasa Reddy were among those who took part in the event.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Lok Satta Party units in districts will undertake a random survey of elementary schools to ascertain to what extent the Andhra Pradesh Government has taken steps to implement the Right to Education Act which came into force this year.
The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the 6-14 age group from Classes I to VIII.
Mr. V. Laxman Balaji and Mr. V. Vijayender Reddy, General Secretary and Secretary of the Lok Satta Party said in a statement that civic society would have to share the responsibility with the Government in making the Act a success since the future of the country depends on the toddlers in schools today.
The Lok Satta teams will examine whether the schools have the basic infrastructure like buildings, toilets and drinking water facility and adequate number of qualified teachers and whether they are accessible to students in both urban and rural areas. The Act provides that even private schools have to set apart 25 percent of their admissions for children belonging to the disadvantaged sections.
Once the party receives the survey reports in the next fortnight, the Lok Satta units will adopt some schools and provide the missing amenities. Meanwhile party workers will join hands with Government officials and NGOs to ensure that all eligible students are enrolled in schools.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today announced that a national Public Policy and Advocacy Center would be established at Hyderabad soon as a non-party, civil society initiative to study in depth the country’s problems and offer innovative solutions.
Addressing a media conference after a month-long, coast-to-coast visit to the US under the auspices of People for Lok Satta, Dr. JP revealed that thousands of Indians transcending religion and region, language and caste, are ready to join the mission to transform India. India has the potential to become the second largest economy of the world next only to China by 2039 provided it undertook institutional reforms. Most present day problems of India can be traced to our failure to implement the values enshrined in the Constitution. The Lok Satta believes that India can be transformed constitutionally, peacefully and democratically. The prerequisites include decentralization of power through strengthening of the third tier of government, ensuring rule of law, eradication of corruption, provision of quality education and healthcare to all.
Dr. JP recalled that almost all the stalwarts of the freedom struggle ranging from Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Prakasam to Dr. Ambedkar, Rammanohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan returned to India after foreign education to not merely fight for freedom but also for enshrining values in politics in the country. In a similar fashion, most of the young Indians in the U. S. are ready to become partners in rebuilding India as the educated, middle classes and the youth have abdicated their responsibility and caused the present political crisis. Inspired and enthused by Lok Satta’s articulation of meaningful politics and they way it lived up to them, young NRIs have formed People for Lok Satta on their own. The Lok Satta is optimistic of their providing leadership to India now.
To enlist their support and make them partners, the Lok Satta would fight for voting rights and dual citizenship to the nearly 30 million Indians scattered all over the world. Although they constitute only a miniscule portion of India’s 1.2 billion people, they have skills, talents and leadership qualities which are precious to India.
Asked how the Telugu-speaking people in the U. S. viewed the demand for State’s bifurcation, he said the consensus was they should not make it the central issue of their lives. They opined, “Let us disagree without being disagreeable as the issue is decided based on facts, logic, and national considerations.”
On contesting byelections to the State Assembly caused by resignations on the Telangana issue, Dr. JP said the Lok Satta party would take a decision once the election notification was issued, but added, the Lok Satta did not believe it could take up educating people when they were seized by emotions.
He reiterated his view that caste could be eradicated in the long run through inter-caste marriages and the Government could encourage them by giving certain incentives.
He called upon people to say ‘no to caste’ in census enumeration although he favored enumeration of backward classes, without reference to their caste/sub-caste on the lines of SCs and STs.
On Maoist violence, he said that violence and counter-violence have no place in democracy as a ‘policy of an eye for an eye’ will leave the entire society blind. He added that Maoist violence was one more testimony to failure of the leadership to implement the Constitution. The real answer lies not in repression, but in creating opportunities for every Indian irrespective of birth, decentralization power, and rebuilding Indian Politics on moral foundations.
On the huge revenue the State realized by way of liquor shop license auctions, Dr. JP said the Government believed in keeping people in stupor to deflect their attention from its atrocious governance.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is returning to Hyderabad in the early hours of Wednesday, June 9, 2010 after a month-long visit to the U. S.
Dr. JP traveled from Connecticut to St. Louis taking part in the ‘Rejuvenate India’ campaign launched by People for Lok Satta. He addressed as many as 50 meetings and interacted with thousands of NRIs, most of them youth.
According to Dr. JP, he was overwhelmed by interest among Indians in the U. S. in shaping up India as one of the world’s super powers. It is for the first time that a politician from India has carried on a sustained campaign on rebuilding India and ensuring justice to one and all.
Monday, June 7, 2010
The preemptive arrest of Lok Satta Party activists on June 7 was nothing but an attempt at stifling the lone voice of protest against the Andhra Pradesh Government’s pro-active policy of liquor consumption, charged the party here today.
Talking to the media, party leaders Katari Sinivasa Rao, Dr. Panduranga Rao, Mrs. N. Saroja Devi, Dasari Ratnam said the Government trampled upon the democratic right of people to protest peacefully and constitutionally against liquor auctions by arresting Lok Satta Party leaders and workers on their way to the venue of auctions.
While some elected people’s representatives actively took part in the auctions, a majority of them ranging from Parliament Members and State legislators to zilla parishad chairpersons and sarpanches have chosen to maintain a studied silence over liquor auctions. “This is a black day for democracy and good governance,” commented the party leaders.
The Lok Satta leaders said the ‘Prohibition and Excise Department’ has shed Prohibition from its name by working round the clock to boost revenue from liquor shop auctions. Pointing out that some shops attracted bid amounts of nearly Rs.4.5 crore each, the Lok Satta leaders said that such a shopkeeper had to record sales worth Rs.10 lakh a day merely to meet the license fee. No wonder, all those who bagged licenses at astronomical rates would promote and encourage proliferation of unauthorized outlets (belt shops) and boost liquor consumption.
The Lok Satta Party would continue to press the Government to restrict alcohol consumption, which is playing havoc with the lives and economy of millions of poor people in the State.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Andhra Pradesh Government is violating the spirit of the Constitution and the letter of the Excise law by promoting unbridled liquor consumption through auction of liquor shops, charged Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
Dr. JP, now in the U. S. taking part in a ‘Rejuvenate India’ campaign, explained in a statement that the license fee works out to Rs.50000 a day to a dealer who gets it by bidding for Rs.3 crore. To realize the license fee alone, the dealer has to make sales worth Rs.300000 a day. That is possible only when he/she promotes unauthorized outlets, known as belt shops. The Government itself is abetting the violation of the Excise law by ignoring the illegal liquor outlets. Had there been no opposition from women and civic society organizations, the Government would have legalized the illegal outlets by now, Dr. JP said.
Dr. JP added that traditional party workers not merely distributed liquor to influence voters during elections but also viewed liquor shops as an investment in politics.
The Lok Satta President rubbished the Government excuse that limiting liquor outlets would lead to illicit distillation of country liquor by pointing out that if village panchayats and women organizations were empowered, they could stamp out illegal outlets and illicit distillation.
Dr. JP congratulated party workers on protesting against liquor auctions peacefully and constitutionally.
Lok Satta activists undertook collection of alms near RTC X-road to go to the rescue of a cash-strapped Government, which encouraged liquor sales as a means of revenue. Among the participants in the campaign were leaders V. Laxamn Balaji, Dr. Pandurgana Rao V. Rohit Kumar, N. Saojadevi, Mahalakshmi, S. Gajanani, Dasari Ratnam, P. Sivaji and Mangala.
Mr. Balaji and Mr. Ratnam told the media that those politicians, who till the other day shed crocodile tears over the havoc caused by liquor, vied with one another in bagging liquor licenses. The police removed the protesters to the Chikkadapally police station and released them later.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Lok Satta activists today staged a demonstration at the Secretariat protesting against the Government going ahead with liquor auctions on June 7.
Lok Satta leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, V. Laxman Balaji and P. Bhaskara Rao, Mahila Satta leaders N. Sarojadevi and S. Gajanani and Yuva Satta leaders Dasari Ratnam and P. Sivaji were among those who took part in the demonstration.
Talking to the media, Mr. Srinivasa Rao and Mrs. Sarojadevi pointed out that growing consumption of liquor disrupted the health and economy of large sections of people. The Union Health Ministry had indicated that States could be compensated if they lost revenue by restricting liquor consumption. Maintaining that it had not received any such proposal, the State Government was going ahead with liquor shop auctions. Dealers who obtained licenses promoted unauthorized liquor outlets to maximize sales and profits.
The Lok Satta leaders said that Ministers, MLAs and traditional party leaders too had joined the race to wrest liquor shops as they looked forward to lucrative business during local body elections.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Traditional parties have made a mockery of election to ward committees in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), charged the Lok Satta Party here today.
The Government contemplated constitution of ward committees to enable people in a ward to have a say in resolution of local problems. In the ideal situation, the committees should have been elected by local people. Instead, the Government opted for election of ward committee by all the members of the GHMC Council.
Talking to the media, party leaders V. Vijayender Reddy and Mrs. N. Sarojadevi said that the very system of election by all the municipal corporators was flawed. A corporator representing say Dilsukhnagar is incompetent to choose members of say the Kukatpally ward committee. As a result, the corporators, MLAs and MPs packed the ward committees with their nominees, throwing to winds the norms like choosing representatives of civic society organizations, women, and NGOs.
The party leaders pointed out that in contrast the Lok Satta proposed constitution of ward committees by election so that they could function as local governments in their wards. The Lok Satta even proposed a per capita grant of Rs.1000 to every ward so that the elected ward committee could utilize the money to resolve local problems.
The Lok Satta Party leaders referred to Mayor Kathika Reddy’s comment that spouses of all the woman 52 corporators were being present on the corporation premises and asked whether the elected women members had become the rubber stamps of their husbands.
Lok Satta, Mahila Satta and Yuva Satta activists undertook a protest demonstration against liquor auctions and burnt a liquor evil effigy in front of the office of the Commissioner of Excise at Nampalli.
Talking to the media, party leaders V. Laxman Balaji and Mrs. Gajanani said that by conducting liquor auctions, the Government promoted proliferation of unauthorized outlets (belt shops) and encouraged liquor consumption. The Government realized more revenue on liquor sales than the amount it spent on welfare schemes. People will be spending nearly Rs.20,000 crore on liquor purchases and Rs.16900 crore on the associated healthcare costs in the new Excise Year, going by a NIMHANS study.
The Lok Satta leaders appealed to the Government to view liquor as a menace to society and not as a source of revenue and halt liquor shop auctions forthwith. It should strip the Excise Department of handling liquor and entrust it to the Department of Health as suggested by the Union Health Ministry. The Government should empower panchayats and women’s organizations to close down all illegal outlets.
Among those who took part in the protest demonstration were Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, T. Srinivas, Mrs. N. Saojadevi, Mrs. S. Gajanani, Mr. P. Sivaji and Ms. Mangala.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Paying money for votes is not a phenomenon unique to India, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and instanced how it was widely prevalent in Britain of the 19th century.
Addressing a meeting of NRIs as part of ‘Rejuvenate India’ campaign launched by People for Lok Satta at Dallas, Dr. JP referred to a letter a British Member of Parliament wrote to his constituents 135 years ago. In that letter, preserved in the British archives to this day, the MP said, “You know and I know that I bought your constituency with 5000 pound sterling. You don’t know that I know that I will not become your MP again because you have already sold your constituency for 8000 pound sterling. You don’t know further that I bought another constituency for 3000 pound sterling. In the process both of us have gained. While you earned 3000 more pound sterling, I could save 2000 pound sterling.”
Pointing out that the problems India is facing are not unique, Dr. JP said that all countries had faced similar problems but they overcame because a sufficient number of thoughtful and committed people understood them and strove indefatigably to address them. Pious dreams do not bring about miracles. In Britain, Gladston who served as Premier from 1868 to 1892, instead of lamenting over the state of affairs, built institutions brick by brick and developed Britain into a modern country.
Dr. JP said that the thinking, educated middle classes have to take the lead to transform society since common people do not understand the relationship between the vote in their hands and their own welfare. They vote for the lesser evil after collecting money from rival candidates while the middle classes exercise their franchise swayed by primordial loyalties to religion and caste, region and language. That was why the Lok Satta Party did not succeed although it provided an ethical, alternative platform and fielded good candidates in the 2009 general elections.
Dr. JP pointed out that as individuals we do not attach importance to caste in basic issues. For instance, we send our children to schools which have best teachers and not bother about their caste. Instead of promoting such an ideal attitude in all matters basic to society, political parties have been exploiting caste and religion, region and language to serve their short-term interests.
On reservations in education and Government jobs for socially and economically backward castes and sections, Dr. JP said the present system served only a microscopic minority. The Government should provided equal opportunities for growth to all by making available quality education and skill enhancement.
In reply to a question, he underlined the need to build a system which provided political opportunities to deprived sections, since no caste has monopoly over intelligence and competence. He also suggested that the first-past-the-post electoral system be replaced by proportional representation to mitigate the ill effects of money power in elections and to provide representation to all sections.
Lok Satta Party Tamilnadu President Mr.Vijay Anand also took part in the meetings.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today expressed its concern over gross blunders in valuation of Intermediate answer sheets and demanded that prompt action be taken to ensure justice to students.
It has become all the more important this year because marks in the Intermediate group examinations are given a weight of 25 percent for declaration of ranks in the EAMCET examination.
Addressing the media, Lok Satta party spokesman Mr.V.Vijayender Reddy said that the authorities had found gross blunders in the evaluation of answer sheets of 4000 of the 20000 odd students who sought reverification or recounting. “We do not know how many of the 9.16 lakh students who took the examination had met with a similar fate.”
The Lok Satta leader suggested that the reverification and recounting be undertaken on a larger scale to unearth possible miscarriage of justice. To prevent frivolous requests for recounting/revaluation, the Government may stipulate that the fee paid by students will not be refunded if there are no mistakes. In others’ cases where errors are detected, the fee should invariably be refunded.
“The earlier the Government undertakes the exercise the better it is since the failure of the Intermediate Board has caused avoidable agony and anguish to innumerable students.”
The Lok Satta Party today charged that Chief Minister K. Rosaiah is not prepared to restrict liquor consumption and forgo revenue.
A Lok Satta Party delegation, which called on the Chief Minister on June 1 wanted him to halt liquor auctions scheduled for June 7 as they contributed to the proliferation of illegal liquor outlets known as belt shops. The delegation told the Chief Minister that the Government itself was breaking the law by ignroing the 150,000 illegal liquor outlets in the State.
Disclosing this at a media meet, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, Narra Sridhar and N. Sarojadevi said that far from acting against belt shops, the Government appeared bent on legalizing them.
The party leaders demanded that the Government convene an all-party meeting to consider alternative means of revenue in case it agreed to curb liquor consumption. The Government of India is ready to consider assistance to States limiting liquor consumption.
The Lok Satta Party would conduct an agitation from June 4 against the liquor policy and organize a sit-in against liquor auctions on June 7.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Shri ESL Narasimhan,
Hon'ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh,
We are constrained to bring to your kind attention that the Andhra Pradesh Government continues to play havoc with the health and economy of millions of people by unabashedly pursuing liquor as a source of revenue. What is more shocking is that a Government which swears by the welfare of the common man and takes up schemes ranging from supply of rice at Rs.2 a kg to construction of houses for all is ruining them by facilitating supply of liquor at every nook and corner all over the State. The Government hopes to realize a revenue of Rs.15,000 crore by way of license fees, excise and sales tax from liquor sales this year even as it spends only a fraction of it on all welfare schemes. Specifically we are submitting this communication given that the state government is about to auction the licenses to wine shops across the state. Estimates indicate that the government expects to realize a revenue of nearly Rs.4,500crores by this short-sighted step alone. It is this auctioning of liquor licences that is contributing to the unbridiled proliferation of illegal liquor lending & beltshops acorss A.P.
According to a rough estimate, liquor, illicit arrack and gudumba have already ruined the lives of nearly seven million of families in Andhra Pradesh. Field visits by Lok Satta Party volunteers have revealed that there are many villages in Andhra Pradesh which are peopled mostly by widows as men folk have succumbed to addiction to liquor. Tens of thousands of women are leading miserable lives as the men folk spend their hard earnings to buy liquor and subject them to domestic violence.
Women in both rural and urban areas have taken to the streets demanding closure of unauthorized outlets, known as belt shops, in their localities since easy access to liquor has aggravated the problem of liquor addiction. The other cause, of course, is free distribution of liquor during elections by most political parties as part of vote bank politics.
The Lok Satta requests Your Excellency use your good offices as per the constitution framework and to intervene with the Government and ensure that steps are taken to restrict liquor consumption. We suggest that the following measures may be considered:
* As an immediate step, the auctioning of liquor licences for wine shops, bar & restaurants has to be suspended
* Restrict the number of licensed liquor shops to not more than 1000 in the entire State
* Close down all liquor sops on highways, close to schools and places of worship, and wherever the local population, especially women, oppose the establishment or continuance of the shops.
* Prohibit drinking in public and close liquor outlets along all highways
* Ban unauthorized liquor outlets, and enforce the ban on illicit distillation and gudumba manufacture and entrust elected local bodies with its enforcement
* The State government should act upon the advice and direction of the Union Health Ministry on curbing consumption of alchohol in the state and not viewing alchohol sales as a source of governmental revenue. The Union Ministry has even put forward the proposal to compensate State Governments for any loss of revenue due to curbing the sale of liquor.
* Undertake a campaign to dissuade people from drinking , open de-addiction centers at major locations across the state.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
(General Secretary - Lok Satta Party)
N. Saroja Devi
(President - Mahila Satta)
(State Yuva Satta)
(GHMC Mahila Satta)
The Lok Satta Party has demanded that the Andhra Pradesh Government halt liquor shop auctions scheduled for June 7 and save common people from certain ruin.
Leaders of the Lok Satta Katari Srinivasa Rao, V. Laxman Balaji, G. Raja Reddy and Prathap Reddy, Mahila Satta leaders N. Saroja Devi and S. Gajanani, Yuva Satta Leaders Dasari Ratnam and P. Sivaji submitted memoranda to this effect to Governor ESL Narasimhan, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and Health Minister Danam Nagender on Tuesday.
The leaders pointed out that those liquor dealers, who obtain licenses after paying astronomical bid amounts, promote unauthorized outlets (belt shops) to recoup investments and make profits. As a result, consumption of liquor has been spurting year after year, wrecking the health and finances of millions of families year after year.
The leaders quoted a NIMHANS study to underline that while the Andhra Pradesh Government earns Rs.15000 crore revenue in the ensuring Excise Year on liquor sales, the people will be spending Rs.16900 crore on healthcare costs. Assuming that they spend Rs.20000 crore on liquor purchases, the total outgo people’s pockets works out to Rs.36900 crore in a single year.
“The Government policy is inhuman and immoral in that it swears by people’s welfare and implements schemes ranging from Rs.2 a kg rice supply to Indiramma housing but robs them of their money and health by promoting liquor sales to maximize its revenues.”
The Andhra Pradesh Government had better heed Union Health Ministry’s advice and entrust formulation of a policy on liquor consumption to the State Health Department. The Excise Department is concerned only with maximizing Government revenue and not promoting people’s health.
According to Lok Satta leaders, the Health Minister promised to raise the issue of liquor in the Cabinet meeting on June 5 and the Governor, action against belt shops.
The Lok Satta plans direct action if the Government does not respond positively.