Loksatta Party today celebrated its first birthday in the state with an informal meeting of members and supporters, to discuss the progress made during the last year and to make plans for the future. Party members expressed satisfaction at the milestones for growth achieved during the year, and were optimistic about the next steps.
In one year since the founding of Loksatta Karnataka, the party put up a few candidates in the BBMP election, and in the process established itself as the dominant voice for good governance and anti-corruption politics in the city. Voters throughout the city were appreciative of the sensible and honest positions taken by Loksatta candidates. The media was also clearly much more appreciative of the party candidates, who (despite being only a few in number) were showcased as the leaders of the future in forum after forum. And all of this was achieved well within the legal election spending limits, proving that honest candidates can seek public office.
Party members were not unduly worried about the limited support Loksatta candidates received in the elections. For a party that had existed only a few months in the state, even to be able to garner 7 per cent of the vote in the wards it contested was a significant achievement, they agreed. Moreover, the momentum from the election continued afterward too, with the party emerging as the clear voice of the "empower Lokayukta" campaign to support Justice Santosh Hegde's stand against corruption in government. A lot of citizens realised at the time of the fracas over the Justice's threatened resignation that Loksatta is the only party that has consistently supported empowering the Lokayukta.
Looking ahead, party members expressed confidence that during the coming elections to municipal corporations and councils elsewhere in Karnataka (during 2011-12), the party would put up candidates with similar stellar records to those it fielded in the BBMP elections. The groundwork for this is already underway, said a party spokesman, expressing confidence that in election after election, henceforth, the number and proportion of Loksatta candidates would grow.
During the BBMP elections, he recalled, many voters called us to ask, "why is there not a Loksatta candidate in my ward?", said senior party leader N S Ramakanth. Our answer, then and now, is the same - "Loksatta will bring good governance to your ward soon. With your support, this can happen even quicker than it would otherwise. The tide is turning, and we will one day get cleaner, smarter politics. That day will arrive sooner if more people join to seek it."
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Offers condolences to Eshaan Reddy family
The Lok Satta Party today appealed to political parties and civil society organizations not to glorify suicides committed in a weak moment in the name of one cause or the other as instances of martyrdom, and instigate others to emulate them.
Expressing profound grief over the suicide of Osmania University student P. Eshaan Reddy in reported fulfillment of a vow over the Telangana by-election results, Lok Satta Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, V. Laxman Balaji and Eeda Chennaiah regretted that superstition had claimed a precious life, causing agony to the family and loss to the nation.
The Lok Satta leaders cautioned students and youth to beware of forces, which have been glorifying suicides as cases of martyrdom. Far from enlisting people’s support with a constructive and imaginative agenda, the forces are whipping up their emotions and driving them to end their lives in desperation. Their conduct borders on crime against society.
Referring to suicides in the wake of Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in an air crash, and the arrest of TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu by the Maharashtra police, the Lok Satta leaders underlined that the sons and daughters of leaders who instigated them are doing well while innocent students and youth paid the price.
The Lok Satta suggested that counseling centers be opened in colleges and universities to prevent suicides.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is visiting the controversial thermal power project site at Sompet in Srikakulam district tomorrow (July 31, 2010).
He will be arriving at Sompet around noon from Visakhapatnam and call on families of victims of police firing. He will visit the ‘bela’ area and surrounding villages, take part in a public meeting being organized by the Sompet Environment Protection Committee, and meet leaders of the movement against the thermal plant.
After an overnight stay in Srikakulam, he will return to Hyderabad on August 1.
The Lok Satta Party today congratulated all the candidates who won in the by-elections to the Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly. It also congratulated the people on exercising their franchise calmly and peacefully without succumbing to inducements and the Election Commission on conducting free and fair elections, although the atmosphere was emotionally surcharged.
Talking to the media, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said the by-election results have demonstrated that the era of traditional parties, which believe in deploying money and liquor to influence voters and pursuing power at any cost is ending. The results constitute an unequivocal indictment of traditional parties which believed they could get away by manipulating voters through traditional inducements. Both the traditional parties – the Congress and the TDP –in Andhra Pradesh today are in total disarray.
“We are on the verge of a new era in which there will be two types of political parties. One type of parties will be rooted in personality or family, caste, region or religion. Bereft of any ideology worth the name, they seek to promote narrow, sectarian interests. The other type will be parties which stand for rational and ethical politics, are national and secular in outlook, and seek to promote general public good through empowerment of citizens and ensuring quality education and health care,” Dr. JP said.
Dr. JP said that if parties based on pursuing narrow and sectional interests are allowed to gain the upper hand, the country faces the threat of disintegration and anarchy. “Every thinking individual should therefore strive to empower parties that pursue rational and ethical politics.
“There are sane elements in all political parties and outside them, civil society organizations and idealistic youth who are all fed up with the way the country is governed. It is time they stopped grumbling in silence and shouldered the responsibility of ushering in a new era of rational and ethical politics” Dr. JP said.
Dr. JP announced that the Lok Satta Party would take the initiative to bring about a realignment of political forces and prevent the country from sinking into a morass. In reply to a question, he said that Left parties can be counted among parties that pursue ethical, rational, national, democratic, and secular politics.
In reply to another query, Dr. JP said the Lok Satta respected the verdict and had no reservations in conceding that the sentiment in favor of a separate Telangana State is strong in the constituencies which went to the polls. The Lok Satta, however, stuck to its firm belief that the formation of a separate State would neither be a panacea nor a disaster.
Dr. JP was flanked by party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and Bandaru Rammohana Rao.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s announcement that his Government was considering re-imposition of Prohibition.
Talking to the media, party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao recalled that unlike in Andhra Pradesh where liquor shops are auctioned for maximizing revenue, in Tamil Nadu the Government itself runs liquor shops.
While the Tamil Nadu Government is having second thoughts on allowing free flow of liquor, the Andhra Pradesh Government is unabashedly planning to make more and more liquor brands available to addicts in the State. It had even dispensed with the practice of appointing a committee to educate people on the liquor menace.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao hastened to add that the Lok Satta Party harped on liquor consumption not as a moral issue. It was concerned only about promoting liquor consumption in a society in which large sections of people went without quality education, health care, and livelihood opportunities.
The Lok Satta leader pointed out that Gujarat was progressing on all fronts, although it stuck to Prohibition. He wanted the Andhra Pradesh Government to review its Excise policy. Meanwhile, he appealed to people to form committees at the local level and fight for closure of unauthorized belt shops and sitting rooms.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government cancel all mining leases and allocate them afresh on international competitive bidding to save the polity from mining mafia and earn revenue for the cash-strapped Government.
Fresh mining lease agreements should earn the Government not only license fees but also a fair share of revenue. The Government should also arm itself with powers to tax windfall profits.
Talking to the media at the party headquarters, Lok Satta Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao made the demand in the context of the controversies surrounding exploitation of iron ore in Obulapuram of Anantapur district and in Bayyaram of Khammam district.
The Lok Satta leader said that successive State Governments had been leasing precious mines to parties in which they are interested without following any transparent policy. “A Government which pleads constraint of resources for funding Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and reimbursing student fees has no business to forgo revenue by handing over mines on a platter to select people. On the contrary, it is pauperizing the already poor people by promoting liquor consumption to maximize its revenue.”
The State Government can hit a jack-pot if it auctions the right to mine all minerals including iron ore, bauxite, barites and granite.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that those who minted astronomical sums of money by exploiting Government-leased mines have started dictating politics and posing a threat to democracy in States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Jarkhand.
He disclosed that Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan would soon be writing to the Prime Minister seeking a comprehensive review of the mining policy.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today appealed to voters in by-elections to exercise their franchise without succumbing to traditional party inducements like money and liquor. Twelve constituencies in Telanagana are going to polls tomorrow (July 27).
In a media statement, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and V. Vijayender Reddy said that contestant parties were deploying money and liquor in all the constituencies to influence voting. Quoting reports received by the party, they said, “It is happening even in Vemulawada constituency in Karimnagar district.” It may be recalled that all parties had backed the Lok Satta Party proposal against deployment of money and liquor in elections, during a discussion conducted by a TV channel.”
The ‘sara’ (sampradaya rajakeeya) parties did not respond to the State Wine Dealers’ Association offer to shut down liquor outlets all through the campaign period during the 2009 general elections because liquor was a weapon in their struggle to come to power, said the Lok Satta leaders.
They appealed to voters to cast their vote to the best of the candidates, without being lured by inducements.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that the wise and experienced Chief Minister K. Rosaiah belonging to the freedom struggle era immediately review the liquor policy if he is not bent on making more and more women widows and more and more children orphans and perpetuating poverty and ill health.
Dr. JP rubbished the Government excuse that maximizing revenue from liquor sales is inevitable if it were to implement its plus Rs.100,000 crore budget in the interests of economic development and social welfare. The Government spent in all about Rs.15000 crore a year on welfare schemes like supply of essential commodities at subsidized rates, free power to farmers, student fee reimbursement, Arogyasri, housing and employment guarantee scheme. In contrast, poor people spent at least Rs.25000 crore on consumption of liquor, arrack and gudumba.
Dr. JP addressed a media conference after inaugurating a photo exhibition on the 16-day campaign launched by the Lok Satta, the Mahila Satta and Yuva Satta in 16 districts of the State for 16 days demanding that the Government restrict liquor consumption through a series of policy initiatives.
Dr. JP underlined that the Government need not necessarily fund its welfare schemes by falling back on sin money the liquor generates. It could augment its revenue by curbing monumental corruption and dropping all ill conceived schemes.
Dr. JP said Andhra Pradesh has earned the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 State in India in liquor sales (Rs.100 crore a day) and having a Government that is wedded to maximizing revenue from liquor (Rs.18000 crore a year). It has had the privilege of honoring a dealer who bagged the license for a liquor shop for the highest amount of Rs.5.22 crore. He said he would not blame officials for the state of affairs since they merely carried out Government directives.
Dr. JP called upon people to revolt against Government’s liquor policy if the State were to be prevented from being turned into a graveyard. Women, youth and NGOs should strive to get the illegal belt shops and sitting rooms attached to licensed shops closed by forming village-level committees. Thereafter, they should demand that the Government provide them basic amenities like drinking water, health care and education and empower elected people’s elected representatives. The Lok Satta is prepared to train them in working for the all-round development of villages.
Mr. P. Suryachandra, Sarpanch of Burugupudi village in Kirlampudi mandal in East Godavari district pointed out that the Government went ahead with the opening of a liquor shop in his village, although the village panchayat, the gram sabha, the mandal parishad and 1200 women of the village had represented to the authorities against grant of license. Officials who promised to get the wine shop removed after he went on a fast for six days were yet to fulfill their promise.
Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, State party General Secretary, Mr. Dasari Ratnam, State Yuva Satta Secretary, and Mrs. M. Mahalaksmi, State Mahila Satta Vice President, who took part in the campaign against unbridled liquor consumption, said there are no villages without belt shops and no shops without sitting rooms in all the districts they visited. They noticed that some dealers ran many shops with one license and maintained sitting rooms as big as cinema halls. Most shops had the patronage of elected leaders.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today appealed to all parties to transcend their political differences and strive for an amicable settlement to the Babli project issue.
Addressing the media, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma appealed to the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting before he led a delegation to the Prime Minister. An attempt should be made to arrive at a political settlement outside the court, he said. Meanwhile, parties should put an end to slinging mud at each other and rousing regional passions.
Mr. Varma congratulated the Telugu Desam Party on drawing the nation’s attention to the Babli issue by launching an agitation. But an agitation is only the first step in working towards a solution, he said.
Mr. Varma took strong exception to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s comments against TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu and Shiv Sainiks’ attempts to rake up a dispute over the Salura project.
Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, V. Laxman Balaji and V. Vijayender Reddy took part in the media conference.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded withdrawal of all charges against former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and his TDP colleagues and their immediate and unconditional release by the Maharashtra Government.
Dr. JP, who spoke to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and Chief Secretary S. V. Prasad over phone, underlined the need for all parties to work for a political settlement of the dispute over Babli and other projects without rousing parochial passions on either side of the border. He called up Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan and requested him to take the initiative to get the problem resolved in consultation with the Government of India.
Dr. JP condemned forcible removal of agitators, who included legislators and Members of Parliament, to Aurangabad and demanded that they be treated with dignity, courtesy, and respect.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is visiting the villages the party adopted in the wake of the October 2009 floods in Krishna and Guntur districts on July 19 and 20.
Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao released Dr. JP’s tour schedule to the media here today.
On July 19, Dr. JP will be delivering the Chennupati Seshagiri Rao memorial lecture at Vijayawada in the morning and inspecting the lift irrigation reconstruction scheme in Dakshina Chiruvolu Lanka in Avanigadda mandal. On his return to Vijayawada in the evening, he will inaugurate the party office at Kandriga and address a public meeting.
On July 20, he will inaugurate the community hall built by the part in Venkatraju nagar of Oleru panchayat in Vemuru constitutency. He will take part in a meeting of party workers in Guntur in the evening.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today suggested that the Union Government assume responsibility for resolution of inter-State river water disputes and water distribution among States through an appropriate Constitutional amendment.
Talking to media, Lok Satta Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and Lenkala Raja Reddy said such intervention was necessary to ward off a threat to national unity and integrity.
They described the arrest of TDP leaders including former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu by Maharashtra police under the pretext of preempting law and order problems was untenable. Preventing a fact-finding team from visiting Babli and other projects under construction in Maharashtra was unwarranted. As Indians, even Maharashtra people should know facts on these projects, said the party leaders.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The arrest of Lok Satta, TDP, and other party leaders on a visit to the Babli project by the Maharashtra police is reprehensible, said the Lok Satta Party here today. Lok Satta Party General Secretary G. Raja Reddy and Nizamabad Lok Satta district unit President Dr. M. Rami Reddy were among the arrested.
Lok Satta Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said in a media statement that arrest of leaders on a peaceful, fact-finding mission is unwarranted and unconstitutional. It merely lends credence to the view that the Maharashtra Government would like to prevent its irregularities from coming to light.
The Lok Satta Party demanded that the Union Government shed its complacency, intervene immediately and facilitate a political solution to inter-State water disputes keeping national interests in mind.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Lok Satta demands amendment of Land Acquisition Act and creation of Independent Authority
The Lok Satta Party today expressed deep shock and consternation at the tragic loss of life and bloodshed at Sompet. The Party expressed deep condolences to the families of the dead and the injured in the agitation against the location of a thermal power project near Sompet in Srikakulam district.
In a statement, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan announced the constitution of a committee headed by Mr. Bhisetty Babji, the party’s State Vice-President and Vizianagaram district unit President, and comprising experts and retired officials to go into the issue. The Committee comprises Mr. Kothakota Polinaidu, Prof. D.Vishnumurthy, Mr. Kona Mohana Rao (Advocate), Mr. Tammineni Annamnaidu (Advocate), Mr. Punnana Koteswara Rao (Retd. Dy. Collector).
Dr. JP regretted that the Government had allowed the situation to come to a boil, instead of preempting it. Any development project will necessarily give rise to conflicts of interests. A responsible and responsive Government should reconcile and harmonize conflicting interests. The Administration was clearly lost all credibility and resort to force has become a habit in sensitive issues.
There should be a credible, fair and independent mechanism to determine the location of projects and the extent of lands required for industrial and infrastructure projects. This independent authority should also have the power to determine compensation and rehabilitation.
Least extent of land with least dislocation of people’s lives should be the norm. Land losers should be compensated with money, a share of the developed land, and guaranteed jobs in the projects. Only when people have real stakes they will come forward to support industrialization. For this the Land Acquisition Act should be amended, and an independent quasi-judicial authority should be created to ensure fairness and stakes to all sections.
There are festering problems elsewhere also about location of projects. For instance, the farmers of Naguluppala Padu Mandal in Prakasam district are agitated as irrigated lands giving two crops are being acquired for Genco power projects. All such problems should be promptly addressed by an independent credible authority for determining location, extent of land, compensation and rehabilitation.
He appealed to the Government to invite the local people for a discussion at least now and arrive at a satisfactory solution.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today expressed his shock and anguish over the financially crippled State Government devising ingenious ways to forgo revenue or squander meager resources if either option would help fatten chosen people.
Talking to the media on the Assembly premises, Dr. JP recalled how the Andhra Pradesh Government allowed a huge chunk of Central funds for the Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan to lapse by failing to contribute its share of Rs.400 crore in the last financial year.
However, the Government had no compunction in making available 55000 hectares of mineral-rich land in Scheduled Areas for exploitation by vested interests. As per the State Government scheme, the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation will undertake mining and shall sell minerals charging a margin of not more than16 percent. On the one hand, the Government gives mining leases to private parties and gives them absolute freedom on pricing without seeking a share in profits other than a token royalty. On the other hand, it shackles the APMDC by stipulating its margin so that the buyers in whom it is interested can reap riches.
Dr. JP also instanced how the Government had spent Rs.1000 crore on a project without a sod of earth being turned up or an acre of land being irrigated. The pretext is preparation of designs etc for a project that will cost Rs.38500 crore as of today, and requires 3750 MW of power for its operation, translating into capital cost of nearly Rs.3 lakh and a recurring operational and maintenance cost of Rs.40000 an acre.
Dr. JP said that with the Rs.1000 crore already spent on the unviable project, the Government could have reimbursed the tuition fees of nearly half a million students or enabled a million youth to gain employment and livelihood skills.
Dr. JP wryly commented, “The Government has not gone bankrupt; vested interests are bankrupting it. No wonder, the Government starves essential schemes of funds even as it gladly and generously rewards people close to power centers.”
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today congratulated all the scientists and technologists on the successful launch of PSLV C-15.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said our scientists have once again demonstrated that given encouragement and resources, they can work miracles. He congratulated engineering students from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka on designing the educational satellite that went into orbit today.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Instead of becoming an economic super power in the next one or two decades, India will sink into a bottomless abyss if the media, middle classes and the youth do not put an end to Robin Hood politics, warned Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
In his keynote address at a national seminar on electoral reforms, Dr. JP said that modern day kleptocrats, irrespective of the party to which they belong, have mastered the art of plundering State funds and perpetuating poverty among the masses by throwing a few crumbs at them. Instead of getting indignant, the masses feel grateful for the sops they receive. The country’s future will be bleak if such status quo-ism is not ended.
C. Achyutha Memon Study Centre & Library, Thiruvananthapuram, and Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, organized the seminar to discuss the entire gamut of electoral reforms ranging from restructuring of the Election Commission and reforming of the electoral system to curbing the use of money and muscle power in elections.
Dr. JP said that democracy has not proved to be a disaster as some feared. Conduct of regular, peaceful and competitive elections, people enjoying political freedoms, and orderly transfer of power in election after election reflect the strengths of democracy in India. However, unprecedented use of money and muscle power, most of it funded by illegitimate resources, to influence voters has undermined democracy. Political parties have made the sovereign people mere mendicants.
Dr. JP underlined the need for a total transformation in the way political parties functioned. They should become instruments in the hands of people for bettering their lives and cease to be private properties of a few people. The electoral system should be so reformed that every vote counts as in proportional representation. There should be direct elections to local governments. The Election Commission, which has grossly failed in ensuring continuous voter registration and publication of flawless voters’ lists, should turn a new leaf. A concerted effort should be made to mitigate if not eradicate corruption by ensuring sure and swift punishment, including forfeiture of properties of the guilty.
Dr. JP recalled that many countries had gone through such turmoil in their history and overcome them. “The challenge before us is overcoming such problems in the next ten years and not one hundred years.”
Friday, July 9, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be delivering the keynote address at a national seminar on electoral reforms at Thiruvananthapuram on July 10, 2010.
C. Achyutha Memon Study Centre & Library, Thiruvananthapuram, and Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, are jointly organizing the seminar to discuss the entire gamut of electoral reforms ranging from restructuring of the Election Commission and reforming of the electoral system to curbing the use of money and muscle power in elections.
Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari, Governor R.S. Gavai, Kerala Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy took part in the inaugural function on July 8.
Former Election Commissioners, political scientists, jurists, eminent journalists, social activists, besides national leaders of political parties are attending the three-day seminar.
Dr. JP left for Thiruvananthapuram this evening.
The Lok Satta Party today condemned the arrest of and physical assault on its activists, now on a State-wide campaign demanding restriction of liquor consumption, including closure of illegal outlets (belt shops) and sitting rooms attached to licensed shops.
The Ongole police arrested nearly 40 Lok Satta activists including State party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao, district party President Allu Siva Ramesh Reddy, State Yuva Satta leaders Dasari Ratnam and P. Sivaji as they attempted to prevent open drinking at a licensed shop on the night of July 8. The police would not heed the Lok Satta leaders’ assertion that they could arrest people violating law under Section 43 of the Criminal Procedure Code and hand them over to the authorities for follow up action. The police later released them on instructions from the Superintendent of Police.
On July 9, liquor vendor supporters assaulted Narasaraopet Mahila Satta President G. Nirmala Bose as she and other activists tried to close down unauthorized liquor outlets in Vennadevi village of Sattenapalli mandal in Guntur district.
Giving this information, Lok Satta Party leaders Bhisetty Babji, V. Laxman Balaji and V. Vijayender Reddy said in a statement that the incidents mirrored the deep roots struck by the liquor lobby in the State with the support of the State Government and traditional political parties or ‘Sara parties’ standing for sampradaya rajakiya pakshalu.
The Lok Satta Party leaders said that far from cooperating with Lok Satta activists in enforcing laws, the police and excise wings have chosen to ignore the liquor lobby’s illegal activities.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
As many as 5774 primary schools in Andhra Pradesh do not have even a single teacher and there are as many as 3193 schools with less than ten students in each.
Disclosing this here today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today said that the data eloquently testified to the incompetent and irrational administration of education in the State.
What is more shocking is that that as many as 399 schools with not a single teacher have more than 100 students each and 1562 schools have less than five students each.
Talking to the media on the Legislative Assembly premises, Dr. JP pointed out successive Governments’ callous attitude towards primary education in the public sector has been forcing the poor like daily wage earners and vegetable vendors to send their wards to private schools. They shell out a huge portion of their hard earned income on private school education in the belief they will get better education.
Dr. JP charged that successive Governments have chosen to keep the poor children illiterate or semi literate or poorly educated to serve their narrow interests. After all education empowers people and enables them to conquer poverty and fight corrupt governments.
As of now, tens of thousands of children are condemned to a life of poverty and drudgery for no fault of theirs except the accident of the womb. As there are too many schools with too few children, the schools and the teachers get away without any monitoring worth the name.
Dr. JP demanded that the Government shed its apathy and negligence at least now and restructure primary education ensuring that there are at least 20000 well-equipped schools with 100 children and five teachers each. As of now there are 56963 schools with 27 lakh students on rolls and 111000 teachers.
Dr. JP said that the State Government had displayed its ineptness even in utilizing funds granted by the Government of India. The State could spend only Rs.400 crore of the Rs.1100 crore earmarked for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan last year as it could not contribute its share for the Centrally-sponsored scheme. The State will in all probability utilize only Rs.600 crore of the Rs.1800 crore available under the Sarva Siksha and Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyans this year.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today appealed to all political parties and civic organizations to join hands and save the State from the impending liquor catastrophe.
Successive Governments have already succeeded in devastating the health and finances of 75 lakh families or nearly 3.5 crore people. The Excise Year which began on July 1, 2010 threatens to unveil a still darker chapter in the State’s history, he warned quoting facts and figures.
Dr. JP was flagging off Lok Satta Party’s 16-day campaign in as many districts (barring those where Assembly by-elections are due) against the liquor menace. “This is not an issue concerning this party or that party or a problem that can be resolved overnight. It concerns the future of the people. The struggle is going to be long and arduous and warrants supreme sacrifice.
The State Government will be earning up to Rs. 18000 crore as revenue during the new Excise year against Rs.13000 crore in the previous year by way of license fees, excise, sales tax/VAT, and privilege fee. According to a conservative estimate, liquor shop licensees who incur an expenditure of Rs.10 crore a day on license fee alone, have to sell liquor worth Rs.80 crore a day to stay afloat. In other words, people will be spending more than Rs.30000 crore on liquor consumption in the current Excise year, without taking into account their spends on illicit arrack, ‘gudumba’ and adulterated toddy.
Dr. JP said that promotion of unbridled liquor consumption by successive Governments has impoverished millions, aggravated domestic violence and left thousands of families orphaned. It has, however, served the diabolical game of Governments in keeping people in stupor and preventing them from questioning abdication of is basic responsibilities like providing quality education and healthcare. People have not realized that the crumbs that Governments threw at them in the name of welfare schemes cost a mere one-third of the revenue the liquor generated.
Dr. JP regretted that traditional political parties (sampradaya rajakeeya parteelu) have become ‘sara’ parties in that they inculcated liquor consumption among the young through free distribution during elections. If the traditional parties are sincere, they should pledge themselves against free liquor distribution. “I humbly appeal to all political parties and civic organizations to join hands with the Lok Satta and save the State from the impending catastrophe. If you do not wake up now, you may have to rule only over the vast graveyard that Andhra Pradesh seems destined to become.”
Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said the campaign would start from Dubagunta village in Potti Sriramulu Nellore district. Dubagunta women electrified the entire State in the 1990’s by launching a movement against liquor. Closure of belt hops and sitting rooms attached to liquor outlets and rallies by families ruined by liquor will form part of the campaign.
Mrs. N. Saroja Devi, President of the State Mahila Satta, pointed out that there are hundreds of villages without safe drinking water but not a single habitation without a liquor outlet in Andhra Pradesh.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today called upon all the educated and the youth to seize the golden opportunity to transform politics in Andhra Pradesh and open a new chapter in people’s lives.
“The Congress Party in the State is steeped in a deep leadership crisis even as the Telugu Desam Party has lost all credibility. Successive traditional party Governments have abdicated their basic responsibilities of ensuring quality education, healthcare, employment and livelihood opportunities through skills enhancement, optimum utilization of natural resources and rule of law. Traditional party politicians have turned politics into a means for personal aggrandizement at the cost of the people who elect them. Against such a dismal backdrop, the Lok Satta with a credible, specific and practical agenda and committed and dedicated leadership comes as a fresh breath of air.”
Addressing the media on the two-day deliberations of the State Working Committee, Dr. JP said the Lok Satta had realized that pursuing a transformational political agenda was an uphill task. Traditional parties over the years had kept people in a state of stupor and managed to win in election after election by buying their votes with money or liquor or raining short-term sops.
Dr. JP said that it is never too late to transform the political scene since there are legions of honest people in society who are thirsting for change. As of now they feel they are helpless.
The Lok Satta has therefore decided to launch a phase-wise, intense campaign in 39 chosen municipalities and 20 rural Assembly constituencies to educate the public on what can and should be done to better their lives. It will pick up competent youth with leadership qualities, train and field them in municipal elections.
Elections should not be viewed as a means to come to power and make personal money but as an opportunity to improve people’s lives. Committed and dedicated youth have developed Alandur in Tamil Nadu as a model municipality and attempts are under way to replicate the experiment in 54 more towns.
Dr. JP said that traditional parties lacked sincerity and seriousness in addressing people’s basic issues and instanced how a couple of hours of rain in Hyderabad city the other day resulted in power cuts, and unending traffic jams.
Dr. JP said he had appointed Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma party’s Working President so that he could focus on national issues like empowerment of local bodies and plugging loopholes in anti corruption laws, and undertake an extensive tour of the State to promote awareness among the public on their rights and responsibilities.
Mr. Varma demanded that the Government hold elections to municipalities as scheduled without looking for excuses for postponing them. He hoped that the Government would not violate the Constitutional mandate of holding elections on time.
Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, General Secretary, said the party had adopted a resolution demanding that the Government review its policy of promoting liquor consumption which has ruined the lives of lakhs of families in the State. He pointed out that traditional parties are shedding crocodile tears over liquor addicts’ plight after having allowed their workers to corner liquor licenses. The resolution demanded immediate closure of belt shops and sitting rooms attached to liquor outlets and suggested that village panchayats be empowered to reject location of wine shops. The party expressed its readiness to work with all parties and NGOs committed to restricting liquor consumption.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma today took over as Working President of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Lok Satta Party following his appointment by party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and endorsement by the Working Committee.
Dr. JP decided on the creation of the Working President post so that he can be relieved of routine organizational burdens, and have time to focus on strategic and national issues.
Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, Bhisetty Babji, V. Laxman Balaji and Jaganmohan Raju briefed the media on the first day’s deliberations of the State Working Committee here today.
Underlining the need for a senior party leader with credibility, acceptability and commitment to help him monitor and guide party activities on a day-to-day basis, Dr, JP appointed Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma Working President for one year initially.
The Working President, the State Working Committee and the Core Committee will be responsible for the outcomes and implementation of party policies and programs, Dr. JP told the Working Committee. They will have full autonomy to function within the broad guidelines and policies of the party.
The Working President and the Working Committee will have the following key goals:
Intensive building of the organization and auxiliary wings through a mass contact program, training, education, anti-liquor movement, and other activities at the grassroots level in a phased manner.
Undertaking membership drive, and party elections at village and mandal levels in a phased manner paving way for district and State elections within 12-18 months.
Managing party headquarters on a day-to-day basis
Mobilizing resources for party activities