Thursday, September 29, 2011
Postponement of municipal elections for the third time in a row runs counter to the spirit of democracy and the Constitution, charged the Lok Satta Party today.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said the Government trotted out lame excuses like formation of new municipalities and enumeration of B. C. voters to conceal the ruling party’s inability to face the electorate.
Mr. Varma said that the Government could have held elections to all municipalities barring the new ones, based on the old BC voters’ lists.
He pointed out that more than 90 percent of municipalities as also other local bodies like panchayats are under special officers’ rule. By deferring elections repeatedly, the ruling Congress is emulating the Telugu Desam Party in depriving people of elected local governments.
So long as power is concentrated at the State capital and people denied elected local governments, announcement of new schemes will not serve the purpose.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be the keynote speaker at two events – one at IIT, Chennai, on September 29 and the other at IIM, Bengaluru, on September 30.
In Chennai, he will take part in a symposium titled ‘Question the Future’ with reference to healthcare, finance and governance. The symposium forms part of Shaastra, the annual technical festival of IIT, Chennai.
In Bengaluru, he will deliver a lecture on the subject ‘Be the Change’ at the inaugural function of Vista 2011-12, the annual international business festival at IIM, Bengaluru. He would dwell on the change he has worked for in society.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
You can follow Lok Satta News in Buzz as well from the following URL.
The google profile page of loksattaparty (http://www.google.com/profiles/loksattaparty) would redirect to google plus and from there, one can see the Buzz of Lok Satta party.
DC Debate: The corporate sector should be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal
It will end collusive corruption
Jayaprakash Narayan, president, Loksatta Party
(As told to Monica Jha)
Yes, I think corporates should be covered by the Lokpal to the extent that they are involved in collusive corruption, like in the mining scam in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and 2G scam.
Corporates are also bribe-givers and partners in corruption. Once government officials are covered by the Lokpal, the collusive corruption involving corporates will automatically be covered. Corporates are also covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act. Going beyond this and getting into their internal matters may not be possible.
Corporates are directly involved in corruption in various ways. The collusion between people in the government with some corporates hurts the interests of other genuine corporates.
Corporates have tremendous interests in all issues involving money and allotment of natural resources like land, mines, spectrum etc. Therefore, it is worthwhile to involve them in the discussion. Let them know that once the Lokpal is in place, things will change and bribe-giving corporates will not be acceptable. Many countries have provisions that keep a check on corruption in many forms.
Post-Watergate, the United States enforced the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has an important provision that applies to American firms and individuals who are involved in corrupt practices outside the US. Corrupt foreign officials can be punished in the US.
Either directly or through an interdepartmental process, the government must make sure that corporates are consulted. The Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill has invited the Loksatta Party to make a presentation in this regard on September 23. On behalf of the Loksatta Party, I will appeal to the government to involve corporates and to the corporates to become part of the discussion so that the legitimate concerns of corporates can be taken on board.
Giving them (corporates) lectures about honesty is not enough. There is need for a mechanism to address their grievances promptly. Moreover, what is the reward for a corporate’s honesty? Just the quiet satisfaction of being honest is not enough for a corporate. We need a system that assures them that they will not be losing out on opportunities or profits for being honest.
This will enhance the compliance rate and will help honest corporates keep a check on corrupt practices within corporates and the government.
The civil society’s approach has been antagonistic so far. I do not think this is right. Just because there are wrongdoers among corporates, all corporates should not be kept at bay. What the civil society must understand is that each player is important in this process.
Learning to collaborate is important. Wealth-creation is important and corporates are doing exactly that. They are an important and indispensable part of the system and if we recognise that and make sure that they have fair competition and follow ethical practices, it will not be difficult to achieve a corruption-free system.
Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle
As many as 1500 leaders of the Lok Satta Party from around the State will be congregating at Ongole on October 8 to discuss ways and means of taking the fight against corruption to a higher plane.
The party is organizing the leadership summit to mark its fifth anniversary.
Addressing a media conference here today, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said that the leadership summit would outline the way forward for the Lok Satta Party when most of the traditional parties, steeped in corruption, had lost their credibility. The Lok Satta Party has almost successfully fought for the creation of Lokayuktas in States along with the Lokpal at the national level. It is a matter of time before these institutions come into existence. Creation of a strong anti corruption mechanism alone will not do.
Mr. Varma said that the electoral system, which is largely responsible for corruption taking deep roots, needs to be overhauled. A solution lies in replacement of the first-past-the post system by proportional representation. There is also the need for regulating the functioning of political parties. Political parties have become dynastic or despotic since there are no laws to ensure they are transparent and democratic in their day-to-day activities including selection of candidates for contesting elections and collection of funds.
Mr. Varma said that an extended meeting of the party’s Working Committee on Otober 9 would lay down a road map for the party. It will spell out the programs the party will take up and finalize steps to strengthen the party at all levels.
Mr. Varma said that the Government of India should take steps immediately to resolve the political uncertainty in the State. The Center cannot abdicate its responsibility and blame others for the crisis caused by its complacency. He appealed to all political parties to observe restraint in the present surcharged atmosphere and not fuel regional animosities.
Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, party General Secretary, denied reports in a section of the media that Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan would step down as President and that new leaders would head the party. Dr. JP would continue to head the party and be its friend, philosopher and guide, he added.
Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Secretary, released a poster for the party’s Ongole conference.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The Lok Satta Party will be fielding candidates in Tamil Nadu municipal elections scheduled for October 17 and 19, party spokesman Katari Srinivasa Rao announced here today.
Its candidates will contest for the positions of corporators as also Mayors for which direct elections are taking place. It has set its eyes on contesting from cities like Chennai, Coimbatore and Erode.
The party is fielding Mr. S. Suresh Kumar as its candidate in the October 13by-election to the Assembly from Tiruchi West constituency.
Mr. Juvvigunta Venkateswarlu, party in-charge inTamil Nadu and Mr. Narra Sridhar, Working Committee member of the Andhra Pradesh unit, are screening prospective candidates.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao recalled that the Lok Satta Party polled thousands of votes although it contested only 36 seats in the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in April 2011.
The party will contest on the plank of providing good governance and ushering in new political culture.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today termed the remarks attributed to him, during deposition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Lokpal Bill, as a tissue of lies. The baseless and unfounded reports in a section of the media are nothing but a concerted attempt to sow seeds of division among civil society activists, Dr. JP said.
(The reports said that Dr. JP in his deposition to the committee on September 23 and 24 feared that the Lokpal as envisaged by the Anna Hazare team would result in the creation of an extra constitutional authority).
Dr. JP said in a media statement today that during his interaction with the committee that lasted two hours and forty-five minutes, there was no occasion for him to either refer to the Jan Lokpal Bill or criticize it. The discussion centered round incorporating strong provisions in the Bill before Parliament for combating corruption.
Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta for the last 15 years has been advocating creation of a strong and independent anti corruption commission, strong, independent, and accountable crime investigation, independent prosecution, swift and sure punishment, including confiscation of properties, of those guilty of corruption.
The Administrative Reforms Commission of which he was a member had emphatically recommended creation of a Lokpal/Rashtriya Lokayukta at the national level, Lokayuktas in States, and ombudsmen in districts and local governments. It had suggested expansion of the definition of corruption, independent crime investigation, independent prosecution, and removal from service of public servants found guilty of corruption by the Lokpal/Lokayukta.
Dr. JP said that he on behalf of the Lok Satta and the Foundation for Democratic Reforms advanced the same points as the ARC.
He told the Standing Committee that the CBI and ACBs needed to be strengthened going by the fact that the only about 800 people are convicted in a year in corruption cases instituted by the CBI and ACBs, the lowest rate in the world. The total number of trial cases pending in the entire country is only 16,000.
Dr. JP argued that once an official is found guilty of either omission or commission in a corruption case by the Lokapl/Lokayukta, he or she should be removed from service forthwith without further inquiry under Article 311 of the Constitution.
To clear all doubts and dispel all misconceptions, Dr. JP said, he has decided to place his written representation to the Standing Committee in public domain. (See http://www.loksatta.org/cms/documents/lokpal/SuggestedAmendmentsToLokpal2011-09-01.pdf)
Saturday, September 24, 2011
The Right to Recall can create dangerous instability at the national level, and foreclose democratic options to resolve crises
By Jayaprakash Narayan
ANNA Hazare’s refrain that the Right to Recall should be invoked against dishonest and incompetent legislators presents an interesting case. In principle, recalling an elected representative presents no inherent problems. But implementation is a different story. It is just one of a number of genuine electoral reforms this country needs. For instance, entry into politics should also be made easy. Election campaigns do not engage the voters, they are merely a vote-buying practice.
Political parties too have become private estates. Candidate choices are all private affairs, unrelated to the people. All this needs to be addressed, so that the best can enter politics and change the tenor of public policy-making and bring some integrity to public life. Instead, today, we are barking up the wrong tree.
Also, while recall works perfectly fine for local governance, evidence shows that it’s rather complicated. In Madhya Pradesh, the only state where this has been implemented, there were about 30 cases of recall and almost 50 percent of those recalled were re-elected. This shows an essential flaw in the practice. We have an electoral system where people can unite to defeat somebody based on reasons of religion, caste and other such divisive factors.
A fitting example would be the US, where Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Gray Davis as governor of California. Davis was recalled. He required 50 percent of all the votes to continue in office; Schwarzenegger on the other hand, needed only the plurality of those voting — about 40 percent — to be elected. This is an absurd situation. Therefore, to project recall as an answer to electoral reforms is to oversimplify the problem.
Unrealistic expectations colour elections in India. People expect legislators to deliver as an executive. But a legislator is not elected as executive. He is elected to articulate people’s aspirations, to make laws and policies and to hold the government accountable. The power to deliver is given to local government. By shifting that responsibility to the legislator, governance becomes volatile. Legislators from the opposition party in particular, will be vulnerable as the ruling party will not give them sufficient opportunities to perform their duties.
Recall is an easy way out; the difficulty lies in bringing about electoral reforms
People don’t distinguish between local, state and national governments. Any talk of performance or nonperformance is typically done keeping the state government’s performance in mind. Who do you hold responsible for poor governance in such a situation?
There are other difficulties. People always look at shortterm populism, which is inherently at loggerheads with long-term public good. An increase in petroleum prices because of a corresponding rise in global prices, would lead to building dissent against the government. But given a decent amount of time, the government might be able to balance this out by pursuing long-term policies that yield results. Not allowing this to happen could force the government to take decisions based on short-term populist agenda. Take Telangana. Volatile public opinion can easily force mass recall of elected legislators. Such a problem is more serious in secession-infested areas. This is not a good situation the country finds itself in. It will create dangerous instability, and foreclose democratic options to resolve crises. Nation-building demands you allow emotions to play out.
At the local level, the risks are minimal and the system of recall can be tried out. But at the national level, the risks are huge and the complexities vast. We are an evolving democracy, a work-inprogress. We need to be patient. Recall is an easy way out; the difficulty lies in bringing about electoral reforms. Recall only lets off the steam temporarily without resolving anything. India is the only country where elected governments are habitually asked to resign when something wrong happens. We need to balance liberty and Parliament rule. Upsetting this balance could either lead to tyranny or anarchy.
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Government convene an all-party meet immediately to discuss farmers’ problems.
Pledging the party’s support to the 100-hour fast being undertaken by Andhra Pradesh Farmers’ Federation President Yeneni Nagendranath at Amalapuram from October 2, Lok Satta Party President D. V. V. S. Varma said that long-term neglect of agriculture by both Union and State Governments threatened national food security.
In a media statement, Mr. Varma said that the Mohan Kanda Committee report on crop holiday being observed by farmers in different parts of the State and the Government’s response to it did not address the agricultural crisis.
Mr. Varma demanded that the Union Government announce a remunerative price for paddy. If it does not, the State Government should compensate farmers to that extent by way of bonus. Public sector undertakings should procure every grain produced at the remunerative price. The Government should facilitate export of surplus food grains through public sector undertakings and share profits with farmers. Farmers should have the freedom to export non-food produce anywhere and anytime.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today placed startling facts before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Lokpal Bill as he made out a case for strengthening anti corruption machinery at the Center and in States.
Dr. JP appeared before the committee for the second day to offer his suggestions.
According to Dr. JP, the total number of convictions in both CBI and ACB cases throughout the country did not exceed 800 a year or seven per a crore of population – the lowest in the world. The total number of corruption cases being handled by the CBI and ACBs is only 16,000 in the entire country. Of the total 6000 CBI personnel, 4000 are clerical and support staff. Of the remaining 2000, only 1500 are dealing with corruption cases at the field level.
Dr. JP said that besides enacting a strong Lokpal Bill, attempts should be made to strengthen the CBI and ACBs substantially. They should have powers to investigate and prosecute the corrupt without any political interference.
Dr. JP also suggested enactment of a strong law for confiscation of the property of corrupt public servants. The Law Commission in its 166th report in 1998 had drafted such a law as suggested by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, upholding the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators’ Act (SAFEMA) suggested that a similar law be enacted to cover corrupt public servants.
Dr. JP reiterated that the Union Government could provide for creation of Lokayuktas in States and Ombudsmen in districts as part of the Lokpal Bill under Article 253 of the Constitution. The Money Laundering Act had been passed as a follow up to India ratifying a UN Convention. With India now ratifying the UN Convention against Corruption, it can enact an anti-corruption law to cover the entire country.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will speak on ‘21st Century Economy – 19th Century Politics’ at the Ethics Counsellors’ Conference – 2011 at Northpoint, Khandala, near Pune, on September 24, 2011.
Northpoint, a center of learning established by the Tata Group, aims at promoting business success by empowering managers with updated knowledge and decision making skills.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will appear before the Parliamentary Committee on the Lokpal Bill in New Delhi tomorrow and offer his suggestions.
Dr. JP will suggest that the Lokpal Bill envisage constitution of Lokayuktas in States and ombudsmen in districts. The Union Government can pass a law applicable to the entire country in the context of its ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption.
According to Dr JP, the Lokpal will have jurisdiction over the Prime Minister subject to certain caveats. The Lokpal will have jurisdiction over all Ministers, MPs, all officials above a certain rank and all Group A officers, all Chief Ministers, and all NGOs above a certain threshold. Chief Ministers should be under the Lokpal. (If the Lokpal law does not include Chief Ministers, they should be under Lokayukta jurisdiction).
Dr. JP will suggest that the CVC cover all lower officials. The CVC will be part of the Lokpal as ex-officio members, but will have separate existence and functions under the CVC Act.
Dr. JP will argue that judges of higher judiciary shall not to be under Lokpal jurisdiction. A National Judicial Commission should be constituted for judicial appointments and oversight.
The findings of the Lokpal on acts of omission and commission in corruption cases should be final and provision should be made for confiscation of the entire property of the corrupt, according to Dr. JP.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s decision to supply rice at one rupee a kilogram against the present two rupees is welcome provided the Government ensures that the benefit reaches only the deserving, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
In a media statement, Dr. JP pointed out that the extra financial burden on the exchequer because of rice supply at one rupee a kg will be less than 50 percent of the Rs.1000 crore burden the Government has just imposed on the people by raising VAT from four percent to five percent. The burden is bound to go down steeply with the Union Government getting ready to ensure food security to the bulk of the population through the Food Security Act under which rice, wheat and coarse grains will be supplied at Rs.3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1 a kg respectively.
Dr. JP said that addressing the nutritional security of the poor is certainly welcome if the Government ensures there are no leakages and large-scale corruption in the system. As of today, there are 1.80 crore white cardholders in the State and applications for another 35 lakh cards are pending. If they too get cards, the total number will go up to more than 2.15 crore. On the assumption that each white cardholder family comprises four members, the total number of people eligible to draw subsidized rice comes to 8.6 crore. The State’s population according to the 2011 census is only 8.40 crore. The facts highlight the magnitude of the leakages in the system, Dr. JP added.
Dr. JP said that the Government should ensure that the ineligible do not siphon away food grains meant for the poor.
Dr. JP also highlighted that the benefit accruing to the poor through one rupee a kg rice scheme is illusory considering that they pay more and more for the liquor they consume year after year. The State which collects Rs.17000 crore a year by way of excise and other levies on liquor will be spending Rs.3000 crore on rice subsidy by supplying rice at one rupee a kg to all the existing and proposed white cardholders.
The Government should, therefore, make all attempts to wean the poor away from liquor if it were to make any significant impact on their living conditions. It should also focus on imparting the right education and requisite skills and creating employment oppurtunities so that the poor could stand on their feet and not look to the Government for sustenance.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Union Agriculture Minister’s assertion that it is not possible to ensure a minimum support price which is 50 percent above the cost of production as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission is atrocious, charged Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma today.
In a media statement, Mr. Varma accused the Union and State Governments of ruining farmers and tenants by not ensuring a remunerative price for agricultural produce on the one hand and not permitting them to export on the other.
The Mohan Kanda Committee appointed by the State Government to go into the conditions leading to crop holiday declaration by paddy growers in certain parts of the State did not bother to recommend measures for ensuring a fair and remunerative price. Even the Chief Minister threw the ball into the Center’s court.
Mr. Varma demanded that the State Government persuade the Center to announce a remunerative price for paddy. If it cannot, it should offer a bonus to farmers as it realizes Rs.1500 crore by way of VAT on levy rice.
Mr. Varma wanted the State Government to ensure procurement by State undertakings as in Chattisgarh. It should try to extend the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to agriculture. The Union Government should enable farmers to export their produce to foreign countries, after taking care of the country’s food security.
The Lok Satta Party today took exception to indiscriminate lathi charge on students of Osmania University and Nizam College on Monday.
Lok Satta Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and P. Bhaskara Rao said that arrests and repression of people taking part in the general shutdown on the Telangana issue would merely aggravate the crisis.
They demanded that the Union Government instead of playing with the lives of people should announce its decision immediately on the burning issue. The decision should be rational and safeguard the interests of people of all the regions.
They appealed to all political parties and civic organizations not to rouse regional passions and ensure that students do not lose an academic year.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Both Mrs. Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of the Lok Satta Party, stressed today that no single institution should be made responsible for making public servants accountable.
Taking part in a conference organized by the CPI-affiliated Progressive Forum on the impact of corruption on development, Mrs. Aruna Roy and Dr. JP said that vesting all encompassing power and responsibility in one institution like the Lokpal would overload it and make it to difficult to carry out any of its tasks.
Mrs. Aruna Roy said that the Lokpal should tackle corruption of all elected representatives including the Prime Minister with some safeguards, Ministers, Members of Parliament and senior bureauacrats and all other co-accused including those in the private and the social sector. She suggested amendment of the Central Vigilace Commission to make the CVC independent and further empower it to investigate corruption and take action against mid-level bureaucracy. She suggested creation of Lokayuktas at the State level, an effective time-bound decentralized system for grievance redress and protection of whistleblowers. She wanted Lokayuktas to be created in States to deal with the Chief Minister, Ministers, legislators and officials of the State.
Dr. JP said that the Lokpal Bill should provide for constitution of Lokayuktas in States and that the Central Vigilance Commissionbe made an integral part of the Lokpal institution. Measures should be initiated to ensure the independence and accountability of the CBI and ACBs.
Dr. JP said that the findings of the Lokpal in regard to acts of omission and commission in corruption cases should be final. Provision should be made for confiscation of the entire property of those found guilty of corruption.
Dr. JP said that while Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill is welcome it is not sufficient. The Lokpal should not be entrusted with the task of enforcing accountability of the judiciary, which constitutes another important pillar of the Constitution. A National Judicial Commission should be constituted tasked with the responsibility of appointment and removal of judges.
Mr. Aziz Pasha, MP, Mrs. Chandravathi, MLA were among those who took part in the seminar.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the entire nation has to celebrate the merger of Hyderabad with the Indian Union on September 17, 1948.
Addressing a gathering after unfurling the national flag at the party headquarters to mark the liberation of Hyderabad on September 17, 1948, Dr. JP said the emergence of the Indian Union with as many as 534 princely States coming together without any bloodshed in 15 months after Independence is unprecedented in world history. It took 23 years for Italy and nine years of bloody conflicts for Germany to emerge as nations.
Despite the mind-boggling diversity of its people belonging to different races, religions and castes and speaking different languages and dialects, India has preserved its Independence and integrity and strengthened its federal character.
Dr. JP said that challenges before India now include empowerment of people through decentralization, poverty elimination, corruption eradication, creation of equal growth opportunities to all, rejuvenation of villages, and enforcement of rule of law.
Dr. JP said that he was confident that in the next one decade India would accomplish all this and more since it has repeatedly demonstrated its strength and resilience to withstand all vicissitudes. The very fact that various sections of people and organizations cutting across party lines are today speaking the language and ideology of the Lok Satta amply demonstrates that brighter days are ahead for India.
Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Lok Satta Working President, hoisted the party flag. The leaders earlier garlanded the portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, B. R. Ambedkar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Lok Satta Party will be celebrating its fifth anniversary at Ongole, Prakasam district headquarters, on October 8 and 9.
Giving this information in a media statement, party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said the program begins with a conference of State party leaders with party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in the chair on October 8. There will be a public meeting at 5-00 p.m.
The State Working Committee will meet on October 9.
Mr. Varma said that the party would discuss and finalize an action plan to achieve electoral and administrative reforms as a follow up to the institution of powerful and independent anti corruption mechanisms in the country. It would also focus on measures to empower citizens through devolution of powers and resources on local bodies. It would draw up plans to launch an agitation for conduct of timely local body elections and to strengthen the party organization.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that the Andhra Pradesh Government immediately roll back the increase in VAT on food grains from four to five percent.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said the increase in VAT at a time agriculture in the State is in deep crisis is inexcusable. The State Government is already collecting up to Rs.1800 crore a year by way of VAT and other charges on rice and paddy alone. Instead of eliminating VAT altogether on all food grains, edible oils and providing some relief to the farmer, the Government has raised it across the board on all commodities. One can understand Government’s compulsions to raise resources. However, in the process it should not impose an additional burden on the farmer, who is already groaning under the weight of umpteen problems ranging from escalating cost of production to unremunerative prices for his produce.
Dr. JP warned that if the Government does not heed wise counsels, farmers will have no alternative to agitating against the unfair regime.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today welcomed Anna Hazare’s call for formation of a new political formation to transform India.
In a media statement, Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta Party right from its inception has maintained that Indian cannot do with 19th century politics in the 21st century economy. Political parties should be instruments for people’s participation. Since the present political parties do not have any inclination to transform themselves, there is the need for a new political platform for the new generation.
“The need of the hour is not to shun politics or revile politics. It is to respect politics and improve politics. The antidote to corrupt politics is more politics and better politics. The best and the brightest in society should embrace politics as a noble endeavor. The Lok Satta Party in Andhra Pradesh and some neighboring States has already emerged as a platform for all citizens keen on transforming politics.”
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the State Government officially celebrate the liberation of Hyderabad from Nizam rule on September 17.
The liberation of Hyderabad on September 17, 1948 was a victory for democracy and the Indian nation, said Lok Satta leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and Bandaru Ramamohan Rao in a media statement. It marked the culmination of Indians’ struggle for freedom from British rule.
They asked all Lok Satta Party units in the State to unfurl the national flag and celebrate Hyderabad Liberation Day on September 17.
They pointed out that Hyderabad Liberation Day deserves celebration by all Indians.
Although belated, the Government of India decision to permit unconditional export of non-basmati rice is welcome, said Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary P. Bhaskara Rao in a media statement here today.
They recalled the efforts put in by the Lok Satta and other parties and independent farmers’ organizations on rice exports and said that the relaxation in the ban on exports comes after farmers have marketed their produce. The decision will benefit mostly rice traders, they added.
The Lok Satta leaders wanted the Government of India to canalize exports through State undertakings like the FCI, STC, MMTC and PEC and share the profits with farmers. The Government could levy a cess on rice exports by traders and share it with farmers.
Mr. Varma and Mr. Bhaskara Rao said the Government should facilitate rice exports after taking care of internal demand so that the farmer gets a fair price for his produce. Even the Mohan Kanda Committee appointed by the State Government to go into the crop holiday being observed by paddy growers in parts of the State has underlined the need for rice exports.
State undertakings should take up rice exports at least from the coming kharif season, they said.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be unveiling a statue of the late Simhadri Satyanarayana at Avanigadda in Krishna district tomorrow (Tuesday, Sep. 13).
Satyanarayana had served as a Member of the State Assembly for three terms and as Minister for Endowments and Commercial Taxes.
The Lok Satta Party had honored Satyanarayana, who stood for clean and corruption-free politics, on World Anti Corruption Day on December 9, 2007.
During his day-long visit to Krishna district, Dr. JP will be interacting with students of S. V. H. Engineering College in Machilipatnam, and Montessori Women’s College and Rotary youth in Vijayawada on tackling corruption.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Mr. Potturi Sivaji Raju has been appointed the new President of the State Yuva Satta by Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan.
Dr. JP has also named Mr. Panchadi Rambabu as Vice President, and Mr. Dosapati Ramu as General Secretary.
Dr. JP asked the new office-bearers to focus on enrolling members, constituting committees at al levels and taking up programs on youth issues.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that the Constitution be amended to make all terrorist offences as federal crimes. He also suggested that an umbrella agency be created to prevent terrorist atrocities and the legal framework strengthened to mete out swift and exemplary punishment to the guilty.
Expressing his deep condolences to the families of the New Delhi blast victims, Dr. JP said terrorists cannot undermine either the unity or integrity of India or harmony among Indians. Each terrorist assault will strengthen the resolve of every Indian to protect the nation and promote our economy. Terrorists are bound to fail because India’s capacity for resilience is tremendous.
Dr. JP said that the frequent terrorist attacks should make us realize two weaknesses from which India suffers. The first is the absence of inter-agency and inter-State cooperation and coordination in dealing with terrorist crimes and the second is the weak legal framework. “We should realize that terrorism will not disappear in a hurry and that we have to live with it for many, many years because of the geo-political situation.”
Making terrorist offences a federal crime, creating an umbrella agency to deal with terrorism, and strengthening the legal framework to facilitate swift and effective action are the need of the hour. The fact that 20 years after the assassination of the former Prime Minister of the country the guilty have not been punished, eloquently testifies to the tardy legal system, he added.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today suggested that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) be extended to cover the crisis-ridden agriculture and allied sectors.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said that a 42 percent increase in wages in Andhra Pradesh (against 19 percent at the national level) following implementation of the MGNREGS has caused undue hardship to farmers. With agriculture becoming a losing proposition because of the escalation in the costs of cultivation and depressed market prices, a number of farmers in Andhra Pradesh have declared a crop holiday this khariff.
The Union Government, which is planning to tweak the scheme, could link it up with farming and take it up as a pilot project in Andhra Pradesh to provide some relief to farmers and tenants.
Mr. Varma said that the Government should also encourage mechanization of agriculture especially in small holdings.
Jayaprakash Narayan, a doctor of medicine by training, left a 16-year career in public administration in 1996 and went on to start the Lok Satta (people’s power) movement to promote political reform and good governance. In 2006, he entered politics by founding the Lok Satta Party with a similar agenda. He became a member of the Andhra Pradesh assembly in 2009—in a campaign that was noteworthy for eschewing the use of money and liquor as incentives. In an interview, the 55-year-old activist-politician talks about the campaign against corruption led by Anna Hazare that captured the public imagination and issues related to Andhra Pradesh. Edited excerpts:
On the campaign against corruption and for the Jan Lokpal Bill:
The importance of what has happened in the past few weeks is not so much the law itself, but mobilizing the public, giving them a sense of confidence that they actually matter. That we can bring about change, we can persuade the political system to respond.
In a genuinely functioning democracy, there is no place for this kind of an effort; it should not be necessary in a sensible democracy. But having said that, we also have a very flawed democracy. Oftentimes it’s generally believed, I think with good reason, that persons in power don’t listen if we actually follow the straight and narrow approach... The last 20 years have seen a significant improvement in the economic conditions of a certain class of Indians. Young people and the middle class are now demanding improvements, which is the normal case in many countries once a nation reaches middle-income status. India is not yet a middle-income nation, but in the lower edge of the middle income...
What is impressive to me is the way Parliament has responded. The debate on 27 August—I really felt proud... The challenge now is how to channelize this energy constructively and creatively... How do you respect each other, agree to disagree, and find that middle path and find the reconciliation, and find a constitutional way of dealing with these challenges and a durable way of dealing with these challenges?
On the perceived trust deficit between a youthful society and the political class:
That kind of a judgemental approach is very unwise in democracy. This kind of a mistrust must give way to mutual respect. I am sure, if the youth are discerning, if they are not self-absorbed, they would have noticed that on 27 August, in the debate in Parliament, how maturely Parliament handled it. There was not one word of abuse or calumny... It took a lot of strength and character on their (parliamentarians’) part, across the (political) spectrum. They stuck to the job on hand. And if you don’t respect what the Parliament of India is capable of, the political process is capable of, if we view them as villains and ourselves as angels, that is an extremely short-sighted analysis.
On the perceived frittering away of gains by the United Progressive Alliance after back-to-back election victories in 2004 and 2009:
I think three things have gone wrong.
Firstly, a slew of massive scams. While everybody knew there was corruption—there is an elephant in the room; we all as a system, as a country, occasionally acknowledge the elephant, but generally we ignore it. Now the elephant is so pronounced, it is making so much noise that you can’t ignore it—the 2G spectrum (case), Commonwealth Games (corruption), Adarsh housing scam, (illegal) mining in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, could no longer be ignored.
Second is, probably they became complacent, also overly partisan. See, the party in power in democracy is not a monopoly. You have a duty to reach out. I think that effort was not there. A sense of triumphalism (set in) after the 2009 elections.
There is a third thing, in a fundamental sense there is a failure of communication. Even when the government is on occasion attempting to do some good things, they have not reached out to the country, they have not explained what they are doing or why they are doing them, they did not feel the obligation to. There is no real communication.
That probably would not have mattered 20 years ago. These (past) 20 years have been remarkable years in India. With the rise in telecommunications, 24-hour television—and even newspaper subscription has gone up in last 20 years—and of course, now we have the social media, mobile telephone, Internet, so on and so forth...
On the political situation in Andhra Pradesh, which has been rocked by dissidence in the ruling Congress party amid a campaign for the creation of a separate Telangana state and a probe into alleged corruption by rebel member of Parliament Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy:
One (problem) is vote-buying—a cynical, manipulative vote-buying with money and liquor. You see it in massive proportions in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
If that doesn’t work—because everyone is buying the vote anyway—there is competitive populism. Freebies are offered. If that doesn’t work, you have the politics of division. I hope it won’t work in the country for long—division on the basis of caste, region, religion, language and loyalty. If you see the political crisis of Andhra Pradesh, you can see elements of all these three...
On the agitation for Telangana, from which the Lok Satta Party has distanced itself:
The point is—if everything is about electoral success, not about the good of the people of Telangana, good of the people of Andhra Pradesh, good of the people of India, then we will have what we have had so far. Lok Satta is a party of the future... A party of the future must be able to reconcile conflicting interests. For me, politics is about three main things —promoting human happiness, reconciling limited resources and unlimited wants, reconciling conflicting interests...
On the Centre’s handling of the Telangana crisis:
It’s the government of India’s duty, apart from politics and which party is in power, to protect the Constitution and to ensure the unity and integrity of India. It’s their duty to reconcile conflicting interests... Instead, parties in power at the national level, just as parties in power at the state level, have used it as a cynical, manipulative political game, unconcerned about the consequences to the state and the country. Now the price is being paid. Now that you have created a hungry tiger, to dismount the tiger is a problem. How do you address this challenge?
You can resolve the issue by either dividing the state, but in a manner that interest (of other) areas are protected, or you can keep the state together, again in a manner that interest (of all) areas are protected. Unless you use this language of reconciliation, and common sense and reason, and be ready to pay the short-term political price in Andhra Pradesh, unless that political courage and wisdom are shown, we will always have a problem. Unfortunately, that political courage and wisdom is in short supply. To that extent, the government has totally failed.
On the roots of the Telangana movement:
There are deeper issues here. It may be Telangana here, something else somewhere else. Basically we have a growing number of young people, increasingly aspirational. They want a better life, entitlement of jobs. If our young people don’t aspire for a job, better standard of living, and want to live in poverty, it will be a shameful thing. Their families work hard, they get a degree, get education from some college, some school, and suddenly many of them discover that they are not employable. The demographic dividend is turning out to be demographic nightmare… We haven’t addressed these problems. We are busy with our political games and the street is now talking. And the street doesn’t talk the way you want it to. The street has its own momentum.
On the Andhra Pradesh economy:
There is an undermining of confidence, more than the real numbers, that may or may not tell the story of state. But the confidence is a little lower now; I think many enterprises in the state are not very aggressive about expansion, forget new investment… In the hard manufacturing sector or software sector, I don’t see much of a serious plan for expansion, because they feel already if I have money, why (expand) here? If I place an order with a company in Hyderabad, I don’t know if they supply in time. A prudent industry seeking raw materials, what will they do? I will go to some other more assured supplier. Ultimately, in business, money talks… Who is there to pat you on the back and give you some reassurance, confidence, inspire you, encourage you? That’s not really happening. Next, there is fear of violence. If one person is affected in one million, the rest of the one million people would identify themselves with that one person. But I would not like to also overstate this because we can recover quickly, and there are some good signs. For instance, government revenues have not dwindled significantly. That shows that economic vibrancy continues, even as we are not investing new capital and, therefore, we are not protecting the future.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that the credit for enabling millions of young people to realize their potential and make an impact on the nation goes to teachers.
Although battling many handicaps ranging from poor wages to bad infrastructure, the teachers have inspired the youth to emerge out of their obscure origins.
In a message on the eve of Teachers’ Day, Dr. JP said that teachers constitute the only segment of society which is totally free from corruption.
The teachers should continue to provide leadership at a time the people are fighting to reclaim the Republic stolen from them, put an end to corruption, and provide growth opportunities to every child.
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the arrest of Mr. Gali Janardhana Reddy and others in connection with the iron ore mining scam.
Addressing a media conference, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan recalled that the Karnataka Lokayukta had estimated that the mining scam involved a loot of Rs.16,000 crore and said that a multi-pronged and long-term war had to be waged against corruption. Corruption could be minimized if the Government sent at least 100 most corrupt people at the national level and 50 to 100 in large States like Andhra Pradesh, irrespective of their status, to jail and confiscated their ill-gotten property.
In this connection, he narrated how a court in the U. S. imposed a jail term of 15 years and confiscated the property of an NRI doctor couple who defrauded the Government.
Dr. JP said natural resources should be allocated through transparent, public auctions and windfall profits taxed.
The Lok Satta Party would be offering its views to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Lokpal Bill on September 7.
Dr. JP demanded that the Government abandon its plans to bring the Godavari waters from Yellampalli to quench the thirst of Hyderabad. The proposal is costly. In addition, water availability at Yellampalli downstream of the Sriramsagar project is uncertain. The Government should, therefore, take up Phase III of the Krishna water project since it costs less and water is always available in the Nagarjunasagar reservoir. The Government should utilize the waters available in the Godavari for irrigation, and meeting the drinking water and industrial needs of Telangana districts.
Mr. Y. D. Ramarao, Vice President of the Lok Satta Party, demanded that recruitment to all posts in district cooperative central banks and primary agricultural cooperative societies be done by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection to ward off political interference.
Messrs G. Rajareddy, V. Lakshman Balaji and V. Vijayender Reddy took part in the media conference.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today expressed his grief over the passing away of industrialist Mullapudi Harishchandra Prasad.
Conveying his condolences to the family of Mr. Prasad, Dr.JP described him as a pioneer who put Andhra Pradesh on the industrial map of India as early as in 1947 by starting Andhra Sugars. He inspired innumerable people hailing from rural areas to branch out into industry, provide employment, and contribute to the State’s wealth.
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Union Government move to ban individuals named in criminal charge sheets from contesting elections.
Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said in a media statement that the ‘Decriminalization of Politics Bill’ being drafted by the Law Ministry eminently serves the cause for which the Lok Satta movement has been fighting for the last 14 years.
They recalled that the credit for publicizing the names of electoral contestants with criminal antecedents and for making candidates disclose the cases against them in election affidavits goes to the Lok Satta. The Lok Satta as a party too is committed to ridding politics of criminals. It is the only party, which has not fielded any criminals in elections, according to Election Watch.
They pointed out that there are as many as 162 members facing criminal charges in the present Parliament. They belong to the Congress, BJP, CPM and other parties. Even Bihar Chief Minister known for his good governance had to issue tickets to criminal elements.
Mr. Varma and Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that barring criminals from contesting elections is necessary but not sufficient. The Government should simultaneously initiate measures to overhaul political and electoral systems, largely responsible for corruption. There is need for internal democracy within political parties. The parties have to be transparent and accountable in raising funds and spending them. Strangely, there are laws to regulate voluntary organizations but none to regulate political parties, which run the political system, they pointed out and added it is time the Government ushered in mechanisms to regulate them too.
The two Lok Satta leaders suggested that safeguards be incorporated in the Bill to ensure that those in power do not foist false criminal cases against their opponents to block their chances of contesting elections.
Friday, September 2, 2011
“It is a historic victory for farmers, the Lok Satta, and all those who have been fighting for ridding cooperative institutions of Government interference,” said Dr. JP in a media statement.
Andhra Pradesh was the first in the country to adopt the law in 1995, which ensured total autonomy to cooperatives so long as they do not depend on the Government. Barring in Chittoor, Kadapa and Godavari districts, all district dairies in the State registered themselves under the new law in 1995. Free from Government interference, they flourished and ensured prosperity to farmers even as those governed by the AP Cooperative Societies Act,1964, turned sick.
In a strange and bizarre manner, the Government took over the dairies registered under the 1995 Act by an ordinance.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court, giving its verdict in a writ petition filed by the abolished dairies, held the ordinance illegal and unconstitutional. The State Government challenged the High Court order in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has now upheld the High Court order.
Dr. JP appealed to the Andhra Pradesh Government to respect the Supreme Court judgment and stop harassing dairies registered under the 1995 Act. He hoped that all cooperative societies, which are not dependent on the Government in any manner, will become autonomous by embracing provisions under the 1995 Act.