Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan hoped that the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid title deed dispute tomorrow would not trigger any problems since frenzy has not overtaken political parties now.
In a media statement, Dr. JP recalled that people have always maintained peace and harmony and it was the political parties, which whipped up prejudice and violence among communities off and on. Today, political parties are showing commendable restraint. That India has remained a secular, democratic country despite occasional problems is a tribute to our freedom fighters and constitutional builders.
Dr. JP said that India is today poised for unprecedented economic growth and the people’s focus for the next quarter century should be on promoting economic growth, eliminating poverty and sustaining environment. Whoever tries to undermine the goals by dividing people based on caste, language, region and religion will be betraying the country. The youth should remain on guard and ensure that all institutions behaved at this historic moment.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is delivering the key note address on "Rural Education in India" at a symposium IIT Madras is conducting on September 30.
Fifty of the brightest minds from Engineering, arts and humanities background will be taking part in the symposium the IIT is conducting as part of "Shaastra", its technical festival.
Dr.JP will talk about the state of education in rural India and what can be done to improve it.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Union Government decision to constitute a panchayat service cadre to ensure proper implementation of Union-Government sponsored schemes.
Talking to the media, party leaders Bandaru Rammohan Rao and V. Vijayender Reddy expressed happiness over 20 of the 23 districts of the State being chosen under the proposal. They wanted the Government to constitute panchayat clusters so that all of them would be eligible for appointment of new personnel.
The Union Government envisages appointment of four officials in panchayats with a population of more than 5,000 and all panchayats in naxal-affected districts. Since panchayats cannot be merged pending the 2011 population census, the Lok Satta would like the State Government to form panchayat clusters so that most panchayats stand to gain with the infusion of additional personnel.
The Lok Satta leaders said that additional personnel be utilized to strengthen the village secretariat set-up and provide better civic services. The secretariat set-up established in 2001 has failed for want of staff.
They pointed out that since there has been an increased flow of funds from the Union Government to panchayats, there is scope for funds being siphoned off. To ward off such a situation, the Lok Satta leaders suggested the appointment of an ombudsman at the district level. In addition, if the Union Government were to devolve funds on district governments, better services could be rendered. If people are thus empowered, they will not turn naxalites, they added.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Lok Satta Party today condemned the brutal murder of TDP leader Chalasani Venkateswara Rao (Pandu) in Hyderabad last night and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice.
In a media statement, Party leader Bandaru Rammohana Rao said that the traditional parties should assume responsibility for such incidence since they aided and abetted criminalization of politics in their bid to capture power at any cost.
Without political parties’ connivance there wouldnot be land grabbings and settlements and organized crime. The situation is compounded by undue government interference in the day to day functioning of the police. The Lok Satta leader said that the situation could be remedied only by a return to ethical political leadership.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the Government move to extend merchant power status to the Hinduja Power Project at Visakhapatnam is highly detrimental to State’s interests.
In a media statement, Dr. JP pointed out that the State Government, which allocated land at a highly subsidized rate and facilitated coal linkage, is entitled to buy the entire power generated at the Hinduja plant at the price charged by NTPC’s Simhadri power plant, as agreed upon earlier. If it now concedes merchant power status to the Hinduja project, it will have to reconcile itself to allocation of a fraction of the power it produces.
The 1000-mw plant produces on an average 20 million units of power a day. If the State Government has to buy the entire Hinduja power at even one rupee more per unit than that charged by NTPC’s Simhadri plant, the extra burden works out to Rs.2 crore a day or more than Rs.700 crore a year.
Dr. JP once again faulted the Government for planning to establish a power generation capacity of nearly 46,000 mw against the requirement of about 15,000 mw. Of the 46,000 mw planned, 28000 mw will come from merchant power plants.
Why should the Government dispossess people of their precious land and subject them to unwarranted pollution when there is no need for such massive power generation, asked Dr. JP.
The power exported from merchant power plants will facilitate industrialization and job creation in other States. The Government with its skewed priorities sees nothing wrong in inflicting unwarranted suffering on the people of the State, Dr. JP commented.
The Lok Satta will soon constitute a panel of experts to go into the whole gamut of electricity generation issues, and suggest a rational, viable, environment and people-friendly policy for new power plants.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today called upon political parties and the State Government to come forward voluntarily to put an end to corruption before people revolt against them. That corruption has assumed monumental proportion is evident from the series of reports the media has been running for the past one month with specific charges and prima facie evidence against politicians of all hues and top officials.
Talking to the media, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, G.Raja Reddy and Eda Chennaiah said that had the Government prevented siphoning of funds, it would have had enough resources to ensure healthcare and education to all, development of 1000 small towns and livelihood opportunities to 50 lakh youth. There would not have been agitations in the name of backwardness in certain areas.
In good old days, the Lok Satta leaders recalled, charges of corruption were laid against a few politicians or officials or institutions. These days, however, the integrity of everyone has come under a shadow. In the changed context, an agitation here or there against somebody or the other will not deliver results. A solution lies in constitution of special courts and appointment of independent prosecutors to try the corrupt. The Government should attach ill-gotten properties and send the guilty to jail. Sure and swift punishment alone will help eradicate corruption and cleanse the political system. Lok Satta leaders will not be an exception if they too face charges.
Commending Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu for seeking constitution of fast track courts to try the guilty in the Commonwealth Games scams, the Lok Satta leaders said he should extend the same logic to corruption reinging in Andhra Pradesh.
Giving a ballpark estimate of corruption in the State, the Lok Satta leaders said it would be not less than one-third of the State’s GDP or Rs.1,00,000 crore. Corruption encompassed land allocations, mining leases, Jalayagnam, INDIRAMMA houses, ration cards, fee reimbursement and whatnot. Elected representatives apart from officials are the major beneficiaries of this unbridled plunder of public money, said the Lok Satta leaders.
The Lok Satta leaders said they had no doubt that money from Andhra Pradesh too would have formed part of the Rs.6,00,000 crore black money that flowed out of India during 2000-2008, going by a Washington think tank study.
Mr. Simhadri Satyanarayana was an embodiment of integrity and rectitude, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today. In contrast to innumerable politicians who minted millions, Simhadri spent his own money on rendering service to the public.
Dr. JP in a statement recalled that the Lok Satta Party honored Simhadri on December 9, 2007 – World Anti Corruption Day – since he stood against for corruption and for clean politics.
Simhadri, who entered politics inspired by N. T. Rama Rao, served people as MLA from Avanigadda for three terms and as Minister for Endowments and Minister for Commercial Taxes.
Sections in the party, who were not reconciled his straightforward nature, sidelined him. Even after quitting active politics and unmindful of his age, Simhadri continued to serve people by spending money out of his pocket.
Dr. JP conveyed his condolences to the members of Simhadri’s family.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Many small countries, not to talk of the already developed countries, will overtake India in good governance and economic development if we do not put an end to corrupt and dynastic politics and take to rational and ethical politics, said Lok Satta Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao here today.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao, who has just returned after attending a week-long international workshop on political leadership organized by the International Academy of Leadership at Cologna,Germany, from September 12 was sharing his experiences with the media.
Some 25 leaders including parliamentarians, mayors, and politicians in key positions from around the world attended the workshop. Ninety percent of the participants are aged below 30.
The youth of those countries are focusing on faster economic development and creation of more employment opportunities since their countries are well past the stage of providing clean drinking water and safe roads. People in those countries barring Brazil and Palestine are strangers to the ubiquitous Indian culture of buying and selling votes and blockading roads on trivial issues. Barring in a couple of countries like,
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that India has the demographic advantage and the resources and technology to grow into a super power, However, that is not possible unless the youth take to politics and reshape it on ethical and rational lines.
Party Secretary V. Vijayender Reddy said that the party would utilize the insights gained by Mr. Srinivasa Rao in its plan to turn out 50,000 leaders all over the State.
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Lok Satta Party is organizing a summit of its grassroots leaders in Hyderabad on October 9 for an in-depth review of the current political situation, explore t avenues for ushering in alternative politics in association with like-minded parties and forces, and chalk out a grassroots action plan for strengthening the party.
As many as 1200 party in-charges in Assembly constituencies, and office-bearers in mandals, and municipalities will be attending the conference being held on the occasion of the party’s fourth anniversary celebrations from October 3 to 9.
Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma, and leaders Y. D. Rama Rao, Bandaru Ramamohan Rao today briefed the media on the decisions taken by the party’s Working Committee which concluded its two-day session yesterday.
The party will be celebrating the fourth anniversary in all Assembly constituencies from October 3 to 7. A membership campaign will be launched for a week from September 24 all over the State.
The Working Committee called upon its party’s constituency in-charges to opt for formation of full-fledged committees by conducting general body meetings and electing the members. Once the committees are in place, the party proposes to strive for creation of basic amenities in urban areas, and resolution of problems of various sections of people in rural areas.
Mr. Varma said that the leadership summit will discuss how the State can be rescued from the politics of plunder on the one hand and negativism on the other and put back on the path of sustained development.
The ruling party is facilitating indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources and squandering away of precious State resources for benefiting the ruling elite. The sampradaya rajakeeya (‘sara’) parties are putting spokes in the wheel of development by opposing every project.
For instance, TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu, who had served as Chief Minister for nine years, is chasing one issue after another like student fee reimbursement on one day and fertilizer scarcity on another, Babli project on one day and Bayyaram iron ore mining on another merely to remain relevant and gain publicity mileage.
Mr. Varma said that the Lok Satta would strive to work for a rational development policy that does not harm the environment or hurt the interests of the posterity and at the same time contribute to the State’s all-round economic growth and people’s livelihood.
The postponement of Municipal Elections in State is undemocratic and unconstitutional, said the Party vice-president Y.D Rama Rao. Rule by special officers is not an alternative to rule by elected representatives. He demanded the government to revoke its decision and hold elections as soon as possible.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be taking part in the 175th Foundation Day program of Bombay Chambers in Mumbai on September 21, 2010. Dr. JP will also take part in a panel discussion on corporates.
Mr. K. Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra, Mr. Chandan Mitra, MP, Mr. Wajahat Haibulla, Chief Information Commissioner, Mr. R. Gopalkrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd, and Prof S. Parsuraman – Director, TISS, will take part in the program.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government categorically declare the thermal power project proposed at Sompet in Srikakulam district stands cancelled. “The Government’s silence on the fate of the project even after the Environmental Appraisal Committee has withdrawn all its clearances is intriguing.”
The party also demanded that the Government withdraw all the cases against agitators against the thermal plant and go to the assistance of the injured in police firing.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan put forth the demands when a party’s fact-finding committee on the Sompet project submitted its final report to him at the party headquarters today.
The committee, headed by Mr. Bhisetty Babji (State party Vice President), comprised Prof D. Vishnu Murthy (State party Secretary), Mr. K. Poli Naidu (Srikakulam district President) and Mr. Tammineni Annam Naidu (member, party Legal Cell).
Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma released the committee’s findings to the media.
The committee found Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) guilty of initiating work on the project even as cases concerning the site were pending in local courts, the High Court, and the tribunal. NCC sought environmental clearance for the project in August 2008 itself while the Government handed over the site to it in May-June 2009. It sought environmental clearance concealing the fact that there is a water body in the proposed site. The Environmental Appraisal Committee too gave its clearance without verifying ground realities.
As local people opposed initiation of work at the site by the construction firm on July 14, 2010, the company-hired anti-social elements brutally assaulted them. Even the police opened fire on agitators without using rubber bullets to disperse them.
Dr. JP suggested that the Land Acquisition Act be amended and an autonomous institution constituted to ensure justice to all stakeholders in land acquisition for projects.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The Lok Satta Party is engaged in working out a rational power sector policy for Andhra Pradesh in the context of the State Government opting for indiscriminate establishment of power plants and the Opposition blindly opposing every project.
Disclosing this at a media conference, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan quoted Government plans to promote thermal power plants of a total 46,000 mw capacity whereas the State would need a mere 10,000 -15,000 mw of additional power. Encouragement of thermal power generation on such a massive scale would harm the State. In contrast, the Opposition parties’ objection to all thermal power projects held out the threat of the State being plunged into darkness.
Dr. JP said that the Foundation for Democratic Reforms would soon constitute a committee of national experts to hammer out an electricity policy that would safeguard the interests of both the State and the people. The committee would decide what sort of power plants should be set up to meet the State’s requirement of 10,000 mw- 15,000 mw. The plants should not harm either croplands or the environment. The policy should provide for multi-pronged compensation to families displaced by power plants.
Dr. JP said that four experts had already given their consent to be on the proposed committee.
Dr. JP addressed the media after taking part in the party’s State Working Committee meeting at the party headquarters.
Dr. JP said that the State is in the grip of political instability, uncertainty, and crisis. The Government does not seem to know what is good for people, leave alone fulfilling their needs. The Allahabad High Court verdict on the Babri Masjid land title on September 24, the ongoing revolt against rulers in Kashmir and the Srikrishna Committee’s report on the demands for and against State’s bifurcation would accentuate the critical situation the nation and the State are facing. As a responsible party committed to pursuing ethical politics, the Lok Satta is discussing how it should provide a lead to people in the developing context.
Dr. JP said that against the backdrop of corruption getting deeply entrenched in the country, the Lok Satta Party transcending party lines would agitate for the establishment of an autonomous anti corruption mechanism.
Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, party Working President, said the Working Committee was discussing resolutions to be introduced in the annual General Council meeting next month. The party will undertake programs roping in farmers, the youth and the poor in 50 municipalities and 35 Assembly constituencies.
Friday, September 17, 2010
It is time the country declared a war on corruption since there is a broad consensus not merely on its prevalence but the threat it posed to the future of the country, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
He was addressing a meeting at the party headquarters after unfurling the national flag to mark Hyderabad State Liberation Day.
Asserting that people belonging to all regions and sections of the country perceived corruption as a common threat, Dr. JP said corruption eradication is possible because Indians per se are not evil people. Systemic changes, for instance, have helped eradicate corruption in the telecom sector. If we ensure that the corrupt are jailed, thrown out of positions of power and disgorged of ill-gotten wealth, corruption will make a hasty retreat.
On the allegations of corruption against some of the former Chief Justices of India, Dr. JP said it was better to expose corruption than to conceal it and we must utilize the occasion to cleanse the system. Sadly, no institution in the country is above the taint of corruption.
Dr. JP said September 17, 1948 witnessed the last and the biggest princely State being integrated with India. It took bloody battles and 23 years for nine kingdoms in Italy and 39 kingdoms in Germany to unite into nations. In contrast, more than 540 princely States were united into Indian Union peacefully and within a year. “We should not take our national unity accomplished by patriots and visionaries like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for granted. We should be ready to make any sacrifice for preserving and promoting our country’s unity and integrity.”
The liberation of Hyderabad State from the Nizam rule has nothing to do with religion. It was a culmination of the struggle for one India under one flag, and against despotic rule waged by all sections of people including the Leftists.
He recalled how the country had to be partitioned because of religious fanaticism and said the cataclysmic event saw 15 million people being displaced, 1.5 million losing their lives and 600,000 people being injured. In the recent past, Yugoslavia has broken into different countries after the death of its President Tito.
Dr. JP said that there forces in the country which are out to disrupt the unity of the country in the name of region, religion, caste and language to serve their partisan end of coming to power at any cost. Power and positions have become means for looting the public and not for serving them. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the integrity of the highest judiciary has come under a shadow even as Hyderabad lawyers, who are supposed to preserve and protect the Constitution have resorted to unprofessional conduct by resorting to violence.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Municipal administration in urban areas has virtually collapsed going by the sharp deterioration in sanitation in the wake of incessant rains in the State, charged the Lok Satta Party here today.
Addressing the media, party leaders V. Laxman Balaji, Mrs. N. Saroja Devi and Mrs. K. Nagamani pointed out that with their term about to end and there being no prospect of immediate elections, elected people’s representatives have ignored the plight of people especially in slums. The State Government seems paralyzed because of internal rifts within the ruling party.
The Lok Satta leaders said that people pay taxes to the Government hoping it will ensure them sanitation, safe drinking water, medical and other facilities. Lok Satta activists engaged in drafting ward manifestos are being greeted by foul smelling garbage and overflowing drains everywhere. There is no sign of medical teams even as diseases like dengue are raging. People are forced to knock at private hospitals and incur huge expenditure as Government facilities have neither medicines nor doctors. Both officials and people’s representatives have turned a blind eye to the situation.
The Lok Satta leaders demanded that the Government launch a special sanitation drive in all municipal areas, dispatch medical teams and attend to people’s health problems.
The Lok Satta also demanded that the Government immediately go to the rescue of farmers who have suffered crop losses. According to Government’s own estimates, crops in some three lakh hectares have been submerged and crops like paddy, cotton, maize and green gram are under pest attack. They wanted the Government, which had failed to ensure fertilizer supply on time, to make available at least pesticides.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government cancel all irregular mining leases including the one granted to Saraswati Power and Industries.
In a media statement, party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said that a committee could be set up to review all the mining leases to zero in on the irregularly allotted ones. Successive Governments had allowed political mafia to plunder natural resources.
Mr. Varma said that the Government award mining leases through the international competitive bidding to ensure transparency, ward off nepotism and corruption, and maximize revenue. The Government should ensure justice to displaced people and that the interests of future generations did not suffer because of indiscriminate mining.
Mr. Varma said that Lok Satta Party offices all over the State would hoist the national tricolor to mark Telnagana Liberation Day on September 17.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Even as it welcomed the Central Vigilance Commission’s national strategy against corruption including attachment of benami properties, the Lok Satta Party today took exception to the appointment of a controversial person as the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Talking to the media, party leaders V. Vijayender Reddy and Eda Chennayya said the Union Government had gone ahead with the appointment brushing aside BJP’s objection. The Commissioner in his earlier incarnation as Telecom Secretary had opposed an inquiry into the Rs.70,000-crore 2G scam, the BJP pointed out. He, therefore, lacks credibility in carrying on a fight against corruption, the Lok Satta leaders said.
The Lok Satta leaders said that political corruption is the most serious menace the country is facing. There should be institutional arrangements to go into allegations of corruption against all elected representatives and officials, who connive with them. A Lok Pal or a Rashtriya Lokayukta could be constituted at the national level to inquire into corruption charges against all elected representatives barring the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and higher judiciary but including Chief Ministers. A similar institution should be created at the State level and all agencies dealing with corruption be brought under its purview.
The Lok Satta leaders demanded that a law be enacted providing for attachment of properties during investigation and their seizure once guilt is proved in a corruption case. Swift and sure punishment of the corrupt through constitution of special courts in every district will bring corruption under control.
The Lok Satta Party, they revealed, is planning a national-level movement against corruption in association with sincere and committed officials and civic society organizations.
Lok Satta Party today expressed serious concern with the decision taken by the Government of India to include Caste in the Census of 2011. This, if implemented as is, would prove a grave threat to the unity and integrity of the country. It will, particularly, adversely affect the younger generation who want to rise about narrow considerations of caste and creed.
The scheme of using caste and religion to accentuate differences among people and thereby contain the fervour of nationalism was mastered by the British, who employed it for over a century. The strategy not only helped the colonials perpetuate their rule but also ended up in the partition of the country.
Realising the divisive tendencies of caste and religion, the founding fathers of our nation had specifically put an end to the system of separate electorates which could unnecessarily bring the colour of caste or religion to election campaigns. Even despite this, we currently see such an overwhelming propagation of caste and religious identities in our election campaigns.
Today, we increasingly see political parties fielding candidates not based on their work and capabilities but because they belong to a caste or religion. Elections are being won not by seeking majority votes but because candidates are able to garner those 20% votes from a particular caste, which prove just enough to win an election. This is the state which our representative democracy has been brought down to.
It is, therefore, extremely distressing that after more than sixty years of our independence, there are now attempts to revive the old British colonial practice of caste enumeration. Lok Satta believes that the presence of caste data is only going to strengthen the hands of caste fundamentalists. And in the end what will suffer most is the development of our country!
It is a dubious justification that caste data needs to be collected for perfecting the policy of reservations. Lok Satta strongly believes and supports the up-liftment of disadvantaged sections of our country through reservations. But with most states having already exhausted the 50% limit for reservations prescribed by the Supreme Court, there is no scope for caste data to make any contribution to the existing reservation policy. In fact in the context of caste census, we believe, reservations are being forcefully associated only to fire people’s emotions and arouse primordial loyalties.
Against this background, with politicians of most stripes inclined to inflame our passions, the responsibility to uphold the unity and integrity of the nation falls on the citizens themselves. Lok Satta therefore appeals to fellow citizens to realize the dangers inherent in caste-based Census and stand up jointly to protect India’s unity and integrity. We can do this in one simple step:
REJECT THE CASTE CENSUS BY ANSWERING ‘NO CASTE’ TO THE CASTE COLUMN when asked in the Census Survey.
By this single Act, the people themselves can ensure that caste census, which seeks to take us back to medieval times, will never become a reality. Caste census has nothing to do with reservations, and by saying ‘NO’ to caste, the deserving citizens are not in any way deprived of the benefit of reservations. Remember, we had reservations so far, and there was no caste census until now after independence. It is unfortunate that the Government of India, which should be leading the evolution away from caste-based thinking, is on the contrary perpetuating it. It is now up to the people to signal their disaffection with this decision, and to insist upon their right to be unclassified, undifferentiated Indians.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The US Government has invited Mr. N. Nagendra Babu (44), a practicing High Court advocate and RTI (Right to Information) activist of Hyderabad to study the principles of transparency, accountability, and ethics in American Government and business.
The US Government has extended the invitation under its prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program. Mr. Nagendra Babu, who is also an activist of the Lok Satta Party, will be in the U. S. from September 13 to October 1, 2010.
As convener of the United Forum for RTI Campaign, comprising more than 100 civil society organizations, Mr. Nagendra Babu has trained about 1200 volunteers in Andhra Pradesh on the importance of the RTI Act and organized meetings to spread awareness about its provisions.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
There is no alternative to amending the Anti Corruption Act to recovering the ill-gotten wealth of top politicians and officials, Lok Satta Party State Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said here today.
Commenting on Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu’s assertion that he would deploy the Revenue Recovery Act to recover ill-gotten wealth of Congress politicians if his party comes into power, Mr. Varma pointed out the Act could not prevent or mitigate routine corruption in implementation of even the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. It would be ridiculous if Mr. Chandrababu Naidu thinks he can tackle political mafia’s corruption with the Revenue Recovery Act.
Mr. Varma said that in the past certain politicians maintained ties with the mafia. However, today the mafia itself is ruling politics. The mafia is looting natural resources and gobbling up Government lands. If this unbridled corruption goes unchecked, the State will go into the hands of a few plunderers of public wealth and the common people reduced into perpetual beggars.
The Lok Satta Working President recalled that his party proposed a comprehensive amendment to the Anti Corruption Act and circulated a Bill to that effect when the then Chief Minister and Mr. Chandrababu Naidu hurled charges of corruption against each other in April 2008. Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan requested Mr. Chandrababu Naidu as the Opposition leader to take the initiative to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the Bill and get it passed in the Assembly. If Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is serious about eradicating corruption, he should at least now work in that direction. Even the Government should consider the Bill in the context of corruption allegations ruling party leaders themselves are hurling against each other. Those promising eradication of corruption without overhauling the anti-corruption law are indulging in empty rhetoric or shadowboxing.
The Lok Satta Bill to amend the Anti Corruption Act brings under its purview all elected representatives ranging from a panchayat board member to Member of Parliament. It provides for constitution of special courts to try corruption cases, appointment of independent public prosecutors of the rank of a chief judicial magistrate, total autonomy to the Anti Corruption Bureau and an empowered Lok Ayukta.
The Bill provides for seizure of property of an accused during investigation and attachment if proven guilty.
Mr. Varma counseled that people should not conclude the fight against corruption would be futile since it is too deep rooted. Such complacency will cut at the roots of democracy. Hong Kong, which was once notorious for widespread corruption, has eradicated it by constituting an autonomous body and ensuring sure and swift punishment of the guilty.
“If you have the will to end corruption there is always a way. Besides amending the anti corruption law, the Government has to bring in systemic changes providing for competition and giving choice to consumers, and deploy technology to eradicate corruption.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Torrential rains this year have once again exposed how centralized administration plays havoc with common people’s lives, commented the Lok Satta Party here today.
The administration has come to a virtual standstill with the Chief Minister ailing, the Cabinet divided on regional lines, a fight raging for the Chief Minister’s seat and some Ministers preoccupied with covering up corruption charges against them.
Talking to the media, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and Eda Chennayya said that as a result of the the paralysis in administration people had to endure hardships ranging from fertilized scarcity to flooded homes and fields, water and air-borne diseases and cratered roads. Private hospitals and laboratories in Coastal Andhra are fleecing fever-hit people in the name of patelet infusions.
The Lok Satta leaders said that the people would not have gone through such hardship had powers, responsibilities, resources and personnel been devolved on local governments. They would have attended to problems as they arose and provided relief.
The remarks of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Mayor that officials had not heeded her appeals for road repairs for the last one month eloquently testified to the centralized nature of administration.
The party leaders said district tours by Ministers and the Chief Minister in the name of ‘Praja Patham’ would amount to an eye-wash so long as powers and resources are not devolved upon locally elected people’s representatives.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The State Government move to close down certain sections in Government –run junior colleges on the pretext of inadequate number of students is nothing but a prelude to closure of colleges themselves in the days to come, said the Lok Satta Party here today.
Addressing a media conference, party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary P. Bhaskara Rao said the move was part of the Government design to privatize education and cover up its inefficiency.
It was strange the Government sought to shut down sections in junior colleges which provided higher education opportunities to poor, rural children even as it would not bother about engineering colleges which had sprouted to milk Government funds through the fee reimbursement scheme.
Mr. Varma said that the colleges would not go without students if it introduced job-oriented, short-term courses, improved infrastructure and appointed quality faculty.
The Lok Satta leaders welcomed the Anti Corruption Bureau inquiry into APIIC land deals with Emaar and other companies and demanded that special courts be set up to go into corruption cases against top officials and politicians.
Mr. Varma took exception to CPI leader K. Narayana’s call to people to hang the Prime Minister and burn leaders. Far from creating a revolution, such calls would undermine democracy. Leaders should try to elevate public discussion and not promote hatred and clashes to get publicity mileage.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The Lok Satta Party will be celebrating its fourth anniversary for three days from October 3 all over the State and conducting general body meetings at all district and Assembly constituency headquarters. To mark the anniversary, the party’s general council will meet in Hyderabad on October 9. The party came into existence on October 2, 2006.
Party coordinators meeting at the party headquarters here today with Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Working President, in the chair took these decisions.
In a media statement, party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said the meeting discussed preparations for the municipal elections and appointed State party Working Committee members as in-charges for 50 ‘A’ Grade municipalities and 25 rural constituencies.
The party’s State Working Committee will meet on September 18 and 19.
Monday, September 6, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government honor its commitment on fee reimbursement to all eligible students.
Talking to the media, party leader Katari Srinivasa Rao said that the Government has to ensure that no poor student is denied the opportunity to pursue higher education. It should exclude those who can afford to pay tuition fees from availing themselves of the scheme meant to benefit the poor.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao pointed out that certain unethical college managements have abused the ideal scheme and siphoned Government funds. The Government should without further delay initiate steps to recover the misappropriated funds and award exemplary punishment to the guilty.
The Lok Satta leader wanted the Government to give higher priority to school education as 90 percent of students do not enter colleges because poverty forces them to drop out even before they finish the tenth class. It is a tragedy that the Government is expected to spend only Rs.600 crore of the Rs.1800 crore it has to spend on sarva sikhsha abhiyan and madhyamika siksha abhiyan.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao reiterated the Lok Satta policy that no student should forgo the opportunity of higher education because of poverty. The Government could stand surety and facilitate bank loans if it runs into fund constraints in future because of the spread of higher education.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today appealed to students to use the Right to Information Act as an effective tool to ferret out irregularities of rulers and inefficiencies in the education system.
Addressing a student meet organized by Yuva Chaitanya at Rosary Convent in Abids, Hyderabad. Dr. JP said maintenance of secrecy in administrative matters other than those impinging on national security leads to corruption, nepotism and other evils. “It is tantamount to violating people’s sovereignty. In a democracy, people are sovereign and rulers, servants. Just as you do not keep quiet if your domestic servant does something without taking you into confidence, do not put up with rulers doing something behind your back. Keeping people informed of all administrative matters is rulers’ responsibility. The right to information is not a boon the Government has conferred on the people; it is their inherent right.”
Dr. JP pointed out there is no dearth of laws in India. But they will serve the purpose only when people learn to utilize them by having proper understanding.
Dr. JP, one of the architects of the Right to Information Act, said there is scope for improving its provisions. Even in its present form, people can use it to preserve and promote democracy. People’s silence for the last 63 years has contributed to politics of loot and plunder.
Pointing out that the Governments in India spend Rs.200 crore every hour, Dr. JP said that people should ensure that every paisa is properly utilized by invoking RTI Act provisions to expose irregularities in governance.
A large number of students from degree and professional colleges attended the meet, coordinated by Mr. K. Vijaya Bhaskar and Mr. D. Narasimha Rao.
Friday, September 3, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today took serious exception to the call for bandhs in Telangana and Andhra on the issue of the State Public Service Commission holding preliminary examinations for recruitment to Group I services on September 5.
“It is an issue that cannot and should not be decided on the streets,” Lok Satta Party spokespersons Katari Srinivasa Rao and P. Bhaskara Rao told a media conference. Such obstructionist forms of agitation will merely accentuate the trend among industrialists to flee the State. The State’s rate of growth has already slumped below even the national average, not to talk of certain advanced States.
On the demand from certain sections for reservation of 42 percent of Group I posts for people from the Telangana region, the Lok Satta leaders said they could not be faulted for voicing the demand but they should realize that they should achieve their objective through constitutional means. The Constitution guarantees equality before law and equality of opportunity to every one and expressly prohibits discrimination based on caste, race, religion, language, gender, place of birth and residence. At the same time, it provides for making laws prescribing requirements of residence for public employment.
Considering the special circumstances prevailing in Andhra Pradesh, Article 371(D) of the Constitution prescribes district as a unit for recruitment to posts below the first gazetted level, the zone as a unit for the first gazetted level posts and the State as a unit for the second gazetted level posts. The State is the unit for recruitment to Group I posts for which examinations are scheduled for September 5.
The Constitution provided for the constitution of State public Service Commissions and gave them independence and protection to ensure they functioned objectively and impartially.
The demand for regional reservations in State level posts should be accomplished through Constitutional means and not by enforcing general shutdowns, said the Lok Satta leaders.
The Lok Satta Party leaders deplored that a Constitutional body like the Public Service Commission has been dragged into an unsavory and unwarranted controversy. Those harboring grievances against either the Chairman or members of the PSC have again to fall back on the Constitutional process for their removal.
They said that successive State Governments have diluted PSC credibility by not appointing persons of integrity and competence and by interfering in their day-to-day functioning. By turning to Government for advice and guidance, PSCs, which should zealously guard their autonomy, have undermined themselves.
A service commission which wants the Government to tell it when it should conduct or not conduct an examination is merely abdicating its Constitutional responsibility.
The Lok Satta leaders recalled that in recent years, 38 percent to 45 percent of Group I posts are going to candidates from the Telangana region. The process will merely accentuate in the years to come as Hyderabad has become the intellectual capital of the State. A simple issue is blown out of proportion for short-term political gains.
They regretted that the debate on public employment has touched new lows. Public employment is about the public and not employees. Employment is a means to serve the public and not for personal enrichment. Wrangling for appointments in “lucrative” departments like revenue, police, excise, transport and commercial taxes as if public employment is private property is tantamount to condoning corruption, they added.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government undertake road repair works on a war footing by allocating at least Rs.1000 crore immediately.
Addressing a media conference, party spokesperson Katari Srinivasa Rao and Yuva Satta State Vice-President P.Sivaji said that State highways and major district roads to a length of at least 12000 km of the total 42511 km are extensively damaged and of them roads to a length of 5000 km-6000 km are unfit for travel.
While road restoration works alone will cost Rs.3000 crore, the State Government has allocated only Rs.750 crore to the Roads and Buildings Department during 2010-11.
The crater-filled roads are backing the breaks of passengers, damaging vehicles, and resulting in frequent traffic jams and fuel wastage, Lok Satta leaders said. More than two crore people in the State travel by road in some 78 lakh vehicles to a distance of 25 crore km every day.
They pointed out that the Government has not been strictly enforcing conditions under which contractors who build roads like those between Kurnool and Kadapa, and Eluru and Rajamundry have to undertake their maintenance too.
The State Government, the Lok Satta leaders said, is guilty of even diverting grants under Central Road Funds for building new roads instead of maintaining roads linking rural and urban areas.
Roads are getting damaged in the wake of heavy rains this year because quality standards are not maintained when they are initially laid. The meager funds allocated for repairs are squandered away on patchworks.