Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee confined himself to jugglery with statistics and allowed the golden opportunity to usher in basic reforms in the economy, charged Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing media on the Union budget, Dr. JP said the budget was eloquently silent on strengthening the rural economy through making farming remunerative, providing livelihood opportunities to the youth, improving urban infrastructure, empowering local governments, providing better health care and education facilities and attaining fuel security.
Since Government revenues are satisfactory and there are no impending electoral compulsions, the Finance Minister ought to have reviewed the economic reforms initiated two decades ago, and introspected why farmers continued to end their lives and people opposed location of industries like a thermal power plant in Srikakulam district.
Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, N. Sarojadevi and Prof. D. Vishnu Murthy took part in the media conference.
Dr. JP said that although the Finance Minister dwelt at length on farming, he did not outline any measures to improve farmers’ incomes, which continue to be one-seventh of their urban counterparts.
The Government viewed farmers as raw material producing machines and not as human beings in flesh and blood entitled to decent living. It has failed to liberate the farm sector from the license-permit raj 20 years after it initiated economic reforms.
The move to set apart Rs.500 crore towards enhancement of skills of youth translates into an allocation of Rs.50 or Rs.60 per head in a country with millions of unemployed youth. The Union Government could have earmarked one-third of Rs.3,50,000 crore it proposes to devolve on States, to local governments and helped them address local problems. The Government, which spent Rs.40,000 crore on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, could have allocated Rs.100 crore to each of the 180 backward districts in the country.
Dr. JP accused the Government of trying to ruin agriculture further by promising food security to all even as it concedes corruption and leakages in the public distribution system.
The Government did not outline any measures to promote production and use of bio fuels to reduce dependence on oil imports.
Dr. JP condemned police firing at Vadditandra in Srikakulam district on people protesting against the setting up of a thermal power plant. A three-member Lok Satta Party comprising Mr. Bhisetty Babji, Mr. Poli Naidu and Prof. Vishnu Murthy will visit the village on a fact-finding mission.
Dr. JP demanded the publication of a white paper on the Government policy on thermal power plants. Allowing thermal power plants to sprout like mushrooms without reference to the State’s requirements is unwarranted and harmful, Dr. JP warned. He also demanded reforms in the land acquisition policy to ensure justice to the dispossessed.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee confined himself to jugglery with statistics and allowed the golden opportunity to usher in basic reforms in the economy, charged Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The Lok Satta today announced that it would support the following candidates contesting to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in March from graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies:
Graduates’ constituencies: Mr. M. V. S. Sarma (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam), Mr. Srinivasa Reddy (Prakasam, Nellore and Chittoor) and Mr. G. Eswaraiah (Kadapa, Anantapur and Kurnool).
Teachers’ constituencies: Mr. P. Subba Reddy (Kadapa, Anantapur and Kunrool), Mr. V. Balasubrahmanyam (Prakasam, Nellore and Chittoor) and Mr. N. Srivardhan Reddy (Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Mahabubnagar).
Releasing the list, Lok Satta Party Working President appealed to party workers and supporters to work for the victory of the candidates being supported by the party.
Friday, February 25, 2011
The Lok Satta Party said that the Union Railway budget overlooked many of the demands of Andhra Pradesh.
In a media statement, party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary Bandaru Ramamohan Rao pointed out that the budget, lacking in vision, sought to maintain the status quo.
It would take more than 100 years to realize the goal of building 25000 km of new railway lines by2020 if allocations for new lines continued as at present. The budget is silent on building of six high-speed corridors, development of ten stations to international standards and taking of new lines like Nadikudi-Srikalahasti and Bhadrachalam-Kovvur jointly with the State Government – all announced in the last budget.
The Lok Satta leaders recalled that cargo movement by railways has plummeted to 20 percent now from the 80 percent during the early years of Independence and contributed to high costs of cargo movement by road. A solution to the problem lies in building new railway lines in association with the private sector. Instead of discharging its primary responsibility of expanding the railway network , the railways is seeking to shoulder unwarranted tasks of generating power, building coaches and constructing houses.
The Lok Satta leaders said decentralization of railways, greater role for States, and promotion of public private partnerships would facilitate development of railways on the lines of ports and airports.
They welcomed allocation of funds for the second phase of MMTS in Hyderabad, reduction in reservation charges, scholarships to children of weaker section railway employees and taking up of projects in north eastern States.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Andhra Pradesh Government, which has budgeted to spend Rs.352crore a day or Rs.15 crore an hour during 2011-12, lacks direction in that it has ignored key areas which are crying for attention, commented Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing media on the State Government’s budget presented in the Assembly on February23, Dr. JP said the budget failed to touch upon measures to increase farmers’ incomes, provide livelihood opportunities to youth, establish a gas grid to accelerate industrialization, improve infrastructure in the capital city, and devolve resources and powers on local governments. The budget envisages a per capita debt of Rs.20000, and liquor as the mainstay of State’s revenue.
Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and P. Ravi Maruth took part in the media meet.
Dr. JP pointed out that the Government which raised its revenue from liquor in a mission mode by 54 percent in the last two years is indulging in hollow promises on eradicating poverty. Although the food grain production this year is expected to be 190 lakh tons compared to 156 lakh tons last year, the Government would not allow farmers to market their produce wherever they want. Although the State stands No.1 in horticultural production, the Government would not allocate adequate funds to promote storage, processing, and marketing in the interest of farmers and consumers.
Dr. JP said that by spending Rs.2500 crore a year on imparting skills to 10 lakh youth, the Government could have provided them livelihood opportunities. Yet the budget is silent on such a scheme.
Although agitations on regional disparities are rocking the State, the budget does not talk of decentralization of powers. A per capita allocation of Rs.1000 to local governments, costing Rs.8000 crore to the State exchequer, would have helped people address many of their problems.
Dr. JP said that although the State capital with a population of more than one crore is suffering from drinking water and drainage problems, the Government has not focused on them. Instead of taking up the third phase of the Krishna water scheme to quench Hyderabad’s thirst, the Government is squandering precious resources on unviable schemes in the name of Jalayagnam.
Dr. JP said that the budget is silent on developing a gas grid to give a fillip to industrialization. A small State like Gujarat recently attracted investment proposals worth Rs,15 lakh crore whereas our Government is boasting of having attracted investments of Rs.17000 crore in five years.
Dr. JP congratulated Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy on limiting the deficit to 2.6 percent of the State’s GDP and successfully introducing the budget in the backdrop of the developments in the State in the last few days.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
That the Indian judiciary remains independent and impartial and provides an opportunity to everyone to prove his innocence is exemplified by the special court’s verdict in the Godhra case, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today in a media statement.
The verdict, which took nine years to be pronounced as in the Rajiv assassination case, at the same time highlighted the deficiencies in the judicial system and the need for reforms to ensure swift justice to victims and punishment to criminals.
He said that criminals should be looked at as mere criminals and not as belonging to a particular religion or caste or region. The Government should ensure such atrocities do not recur.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Senior Congress leader K. Kesava Rao has merely betrayed his ignorance and political bankruptcy by supporting those who physically attacked Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan on the legislature premises on February 17 and leveled scurrilous charges against him shamelessly, said the Lok Satta Party here today.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma, and leaders Bandaru Ramamohan Rao and V. Vijaeyender Reddy said that Mr. Kesava Rao feigned ignorance of the fact that the Lok Satta since its inception as an NGO has been fighting against the presence of criminal, corrupt and rowdy elements in legislatures. Dr. JP did not enter the Assembly to run away from such elements, they said. “Those who threw democratic traditions to winds have no moral right to mouth moral platitudes. People know that it is Dr. JP alone who has been espousing people’s problems sincerely with reasoned arguments even as he upholds the dignity of the House and does not waste its precious time.”
The Lok Satta leaders accused Mr. Kesava Rao of distorting Dr. JP’s remarks. Dr. JP had said that India’s first generation leaders disproved British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s dire prediction that Indians, if given freedom, would fight among themselves on the basis of caste and religion and region and language and people’s lives would become miserable with taxes even on dal and salt. In contrast, Dr. JP said, present day politicians with their behavior seemed to be proving Winston Churchill right. Mr. Kesava Rao exposed his level of intelligence by commenting that even worms have intelligence in an allusion to Dr. JP. People are fully cognizant of the intellect and values of different leaders.
Dr.Kesava Rao is a senior functionary at the national level of the Congress party. If his expressed views are to the construed as the stance of the Congress party itself, then they would reveal the attitude of the party towards constitutional values and the fight against the scourge of corruption, they said.
The Lok Satta leaders said that elements like Mr. Kesava Rao, who have not bothered about Telangana people’s problems, are falsely accusing the Lok Satta of not fighting for their cause. It was the Lok Satta Party alone which took the lead for deletion of Section 14 F from the Presidential Order on police recruitment, opposed diversion of the Godavari water to Hyderabad in the interests of Telangana people, advocated utilization of the entire Nagarjunasagar water for the benefit of Telangana and Rayalaseema, and sought empowerment of local governments and provision of quality education and health care to all and livelihood opportunities to the youth in Telangana. It was Dr. JP who got the cotton market yard at Siddipet which had remained closed for six months reopened and extended financial aid to Mallesam of Nawabpet who burnt away his paddy crop as he could not get it harvested.
A remedy to ailments in a democracy lies in strengthening democracy and rebuilding failed institutions and not in destroying them.
The Lok Satta leaders wanted the Government to go the immediate rescue of farmers of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts where unseasonal rains damaged crops like chilli, turmeric, bengal gram, maize, and mango.
Appeal to students
The Lok Satta Party leaders appealed to students not to disrupt their studies or indulge in violence even as they pursue their agitations. They expressed concern that children belonging to poor families were at the receiving end of police baton charges and firings and ruining their future even as agitation leaders safeguarded their properties and their children’s future. Andhra Pradesh has become a festering sore as the two main political parties – the Congress and the TDP – adopted double standards in the two regions on the Telangana issue. They demanded a comprehensive debate on the issue in the legislature and its early resolution.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The following is the text of representation that Lok Satta team led by Party Working President DVVS Varma submitted to DGP, seeking security cover to Lok Satta Party leaders and activists, immediately arresting all the culprits involved in the widespread attacks and pursuing necessary course of action...
Shri K. Aravinda Rao, IPS
Director General of Police (DGP), Andhra Pradesh
Sub: Attack on Dr. JP in Assembly - widespread attacks on Lok Satta Party members – need for urgent action, confidence building measures by the police – reg.
A heinous physical attack on Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta Party President and Kukatpally MLA) on the morning of 17th of February, 2011 took place within the hallowed precincts of the Legislative Assembly itself. This was followed by widespread and brazen attacks on the Lok Satta activists in other parts of the State:
TRS activists attacked a totally peaceful demonstration that was being conducted against the attack on Dr. JP and in support of democracy and rule-of-law, in Siddipet (near Ambedkar Statue) on 17th February 2011 at around 3 PM. This demonstration-cum-rally was being led by LSP Medak District President Advocate Tummanpalli Srinivas. Several prominent and reputed citizens, Lok Satta members and activists and civil society representatives also took part. Notorious local goons having a history of previous offences repeatedly attacked this peaceful procession and mercilessly beat up T. Srinivas. Lok Satta leaders and members who tried to save Mr. Srinivas too were assaulted and consequently suffered injuries; these injured members included Mr. Nagesh (Siddpet constituency In charge), Mahesh (Siddipet town incharge), Shankaramma, Sharat, Srinivas and Ramachandra.
Some of the attackers were readily identified by everyone present: Mr. ‘Karate’ Krishna, husband of local Councillor Naveena (representing the Ambedkar Nagar and Balaji Nagar areas of Siddipet), Mr. ‘Dolphin’ Murali, and Mr. Nandu, all notorious and having previous record of violent behaviour and breaking the law. The entire assault was captured on video by the television channels present at the scene.
On the same day, Lok Satta Party activists were also attacked in Sangareddy (near Gandhi Statue), while they attempting to peacefully demonstrate against the attack on Dr. JP
Dozens of Lok Satta Party activists were also attacked in KPHB Colony on the 17th February, (at around 6 PM; at the Gandhi Statue, Road No.1, KPHB Colony) by TRS activists using sticks and stones, resulting in injuries to two volunteers.
Lok Satta Party workers were also attacked in broad daylight in Moti Nagar, of Hyderabad.
On the 18th of February, Lok Satta Party Ranga Reddy District Incharge Mr. Jangaiah Yadav and his colleagues were attacked in LB Nagar (in front of BSNL Office, Kotapet).
These continuing series of brazen, violent and condemnable physical attacks are threatening the very life and liberty, fundamental and political rights of Lok Satta Party activists. Put together, these incidents are assaults on democracy itself. They are attacks on constitutional and democratic values and freedom of expression. Despite all these blatant provocations, we have appealed to people not to react violently either in word or deed. We now urge you to direct the police to immediately take firm, visible and concrete steps by:
Providing/enhancing security cover to Lok Satta Party leaders and activists
Immediately arresting all the culprits involved in these widespread attacks and pursing the necessary course of action.
Your timely, vigorous and much-needed response would greatly help reduce the clear-and-present threat to Lok Satta Party activists. It would also surely help strengthen the confidence of the public in the rule-of-law and preserve peace and order in the society.
(Working President, Andhra Pradesh Lok Satta Party)
K. Srinivasa Rao
(State General Secretary)
K. Geeta Murty
(Member, State Working Committee)
(State Executive committee)
(State Executive committee)
Friday, February 18, 2011
The meeting conducted at the Lok Satta Party headquarters also condemned attacks on Lok Satta activists in Medak, and L. B. Nagar and Moti Nagar in Hyderabad, and congratulated youth in the U. S. who took out protest rallies in Irwin and other cities.
Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma presided over the meeting attended by representatives of the Congress, TDP, PRP, CPI, CPM, Forward Block, RSP, and Telangana Democratic Front and a number of voluntary organizations.
Inaugurating the meeting, Mr. Varma said rowdyism and goondaism in legislatures mirrored the decline the democratic values. The Lok Satta Party had convened the meeting not to seek sympathy for its leader or to demand action against culprits responsible for the assault. It aimed at discussing how political parties with different ideologies and policies should conduct their activities.
Mr. N. Tulasi Reddy(Congress) said it was shameful that at a time countries like Egypt are fighting against despotism, democratic traditions are being given a go-by in India.
Mr. Ramakrishna (CPI) said that political parties would lose credibility further if they choose to physically attack their opponents, instead of respecting their point of view. Mr. Y. V. Rao (CPM) said that all parties should condemn physical attacks transcending their political differences.
Mr. B. N. Reddy and Ms. Vijayalakshmi (both TDP) said physical attacks based on brute numbers deserved to be condemned by all.
Mr. Ramachandraiah (PRP) said means should be as noble as ends. The attack on Dr. JP, who is fighting for restoration of ethics in politics, is reprehensible.
Mr. Deshpande (Forward Bloc) said the struggle for a Telangana would not be furthered by attacks on freedom of expression. The TRS legislators should have peacefully protested against the Governor’s address. Telangana people’s pleasure over the success of the non-cooperation movement evaporated in the wake of the attack on Dr. JP, said Ms. Vijayalaskhmi (Telangana Democratic Front).
Mr. Padmanabha Reddy (Forum for Good Governance) regretted that the attack would prevent good people from entering politics. Mr. Lakshman Reddy(Jana Chaitanya Vedika) said the attack triggered concern over the safety of people from other regions in Hyderabad.
Mr. Srinivasa Reddy (IJU) said he believed that Dr. JP is the only real people’s representative in the Assembly. Although he too stood for a Telangana State, he felt the attack adversely affected the morale of separatists. Mr. Devulapalli Amar, senior journalist, said that politicians should respect others’ opinions even when they differed from theirs.
Among others who condemned the attack on Dr. JP were Mr. Lok Nath (Jai Bharat), Mohd. Turab (Kova), Mr. Chengalreddy (Rytu Samakhya), Ms. K. Aruna (Vikas Dhatri), Mr. Venkatramayya (Satyanveshana Mandali) and Mr. Prasad (Jana Vignana Vedika).
Lok Satta Party leaders G. Raja Reddy, Katari Srinivasa Rao, and Mrs. Gita Murthy coordinated the meeting.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
“I do not view it as a personal attack on me; it is an assault on democracy itself,” said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today,
Addressing media a few hours he was subjected to a physical attack on the legislature premises, Dr. JP expressed his gratitude to the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, the Chairman of the Legislative Council, the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and thousands of others who had conveyed him their sympathies. He wished speedy recovery of Mr. Paladugu Venakata Rao who came to his rescue unmindful of his age and health.
Pointing out that a number of people were seething with anger while some others were sad over the incidents, he appealed to people not to react violently either in word or deed. In this context, he recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that “an eye for an eye will leave the entire world blind.” Dr. JP added he did not lodge a complaint against anybody for the attack. He believed that the Chair is competent enough to take all steps to preserve democracy and ensure smooth conduct of the House.
Speaking without any anger or rancor, Dr. JP said he always maintained the party is more important than an individual, and the country is more important than a party. Some people seem to be wishing to silence the voice of those who enjoy credibility because they always speak facts. “Facts do not go away whether there is JP or no JP. Dharma and justice will always triumph”
Dr. JP appealed to people to sit up and take notice of the decline in democratic values. Democracy calls for reasoned debate and harmonization of different viewpoints in a peaceful manner through constitutional means. Democracy does not mean mere conduct of elections. Democracy has been under attack in some part of the country or the other every day.
A remedy to the ills of democracy lies in more democracy and not in running away from it. Tearing away of Constitution copies and boycotting of elections will not provide a solution.
Dr. JP said he did not advocate suspension of the Assembly and the imposition of President’s rule, as put out by certain media sections. All that he said was that if the situation was allowed to drift and lead to Preisdent’s rule, it did not augur well for democracy.
Dr. JP said he was fully committed to protecting the rights of Telangana people. It was the Lok Satta which spearheaded the move for the deletion of Section 14 from the Presidential Order on recruitment of police personnel in Hyderabad. It was the Lok Satta which opposed the diversion of the Godavari water for meeting the drinking water needs of Hyderabad as it would harm the interests of people in Telangana. It was again the Lok Satta which strongly aruged for utilization of the Nagarjunasagar waters for the benefit of Telangana and Rayalaseema.
The Lok Satta Party, he recalled, always maintained that if people accomplished their dream of a separate Telangana State peacefully, it would not be a catastrophe. At the same time, the party believed that a separate State would not serve its purpose unless the people of the region have access to education, health and employment opportunities and local governments are fully empowered.
He said he still regarded TRS members as friends and harbored no ill-will against them.
Lok Satta Party President D. V. V. S. Varma appealed to all political parties and democratic forces to observe February 18 as ‘Democracy Protection Day’ to condemn the physical attack on party President Dr. JP in the Assembly precincts.
He condemned the TRS activists’ attack on Medka Lok Satta Party President Tummalapalli Srinivas, who was peacefully protesting against the attack on Dr. JP.
Addressing media earlier, party leaders Varma, V. Laxman Balaji, G. Raja Reddy, V. Vijayender Reddy, P. Ravi Maruth said the attack on Dr. JP was an attack on democracy and the Constitution. It had tarnished the image of the legislature. Legislatures should be forums only for those who believe in democracy and not for goondas and rowdies.
They demanded that the Government wake up from its stupor and take stern action those who instigate and indulged in the attack on Dr. JP.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Andhra Pradesh will not get its legitimate share in the Krishna waters unless people belonging to all regions, castes and parties transcend their differences and mount a united fight, warned Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Talking to media a day after attending an all-party conference organized by the Chief Minister on the verdict of the Krishna Waters Dispute Tribunal, Dr. JP said that if we cannot put up our case in one voice to the Union Government, the Krishna tribunal, and the Supreme Court, and continue to sling mud at each other the State stands to lose.
Dr. JP called for adoption of an integrated water utilization policy that renders justice to all regions of the State, considering the futurologists' dire prediction that future wars would be fought over waters in the context of a demand supply mismatch.
Dr. JP analyzed that Andhra Pradesh stood to lose because the tribunal took 65 percent dependability for assessing water availability in the river and also distributed the entire surplus water among the riparian States. Breast-beating or street fighting are not a substitute for making a convincing and rational case before the tribunal, the Union Government and the Supreme Court.
Now that all the surplus waters in the Krishna have been allocated among the States, Dr. JP said, Andhra Pradesh should insist on the Government of India constituting an independent, powerful river control authority to ensure that the lower riparian State of Andhra Pradesh does not suffer. Such an authority was created in the U. S. when the Colorado waters were distributed among seven States. The authority should be empowered to decide and monitor release of water from each project on a daily basis. If the upper riparian States utilize more water than that allocated to them, they should be penalized in kind. If the upper riparian State, for instance, draws 10 tmc ft of water in excess, it should be made to part with an equivalent quantity of water by way of fine.
As part of the long-term, integrated water utilization policy, Dr. JP said, the Krishna waters should not be released for irrigation downstream of the Nagarjunasagar except in years of extreme floods or drought. The Nagarjunasagar water should be utilized to irrigate dry lands in Telangana and Rayalaseema regions. Small projects can be constructed to tap the flows into the Krishna downstream of the Nagarjuanasagar. The Godavari waters should be diverted into the Krishna basin by gravity to meet the irrigation requirements in the Krishna delta.
Dr. JP demanded that the Government honor its commitments on fee reimbursement to poor students pursuing higher education. He recalled that it was the Lok Satta Party which had incorporated irrevocable guarantees on education and social security in its 50-point election manifesto. According to the Lok Satta Party, no student irrespective of his caste or religion should be denied an opportunity to pursue higher education provided he or she is desirous and deserving. It also advocated institution of a program to help the poor stand on their own feet through financial assistance and earn pension through a contributory scheme. That was why the Lok Satta welcomed the fee reimbursement and abhaya hastam schemes ushered in by late Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The Government which rode to power on such promises should not go back on them now, Dr. JP said.
Dr. JP said that provision of educational opportunities was essential but not enough. There are today tens of thousands of educated unemployed in the State. They should be imparted job-oriented skills and provided livelihood opportunities. Imparting skills to a million people for periods ranging from three months to a year would not cost more than Rs.2500 crore a year. The Government would earn Rs.3000 crore to Rs. 4000 crore by way of revenue once the trained youth boost manufacturing by Rs.25000 crore after landing jobs.
Dr. JP welcomed BJP's constitution of a committee to study electoral reforms including the role of money and mafia in elections. He said that what we need is a constructive and creative response to fight corruption, black money and administrative paralysis. He reminded the people that in the wake of Tehelka expose, on the urging of Lok Satta the then NDA government and opposition Congress came together to unanimously enact the political funding reforms in 2003.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today asserted that there could be no food security for the country if there is no livelihood security for the farmer.
Reacting to CPM Politburo member and Member of Parliament Brinda Karat’s contention that export of rice and other food grains endnagered the nation’s food security, Lok Satta Party leaders Bhisetty Babji and G. Raja Reddy maintained that agriculture would sink into a deeper crisis if farmers are not ensured remunerative prices through export promotion.
Manufactures of all varieties of goods can market their produce anywhere in the world and stand to gain. Governments, however, have been preventing the farmer, from exercising such freedom and harming him, they pointed out.
Farmers, they said, should be assured of not a minimum support price but a remunerative price for their produce.
Underlining that the per capita of 65 percent of people engaged in farming is a mere Rs.15000, one-seventh of those engaged in non-farming occupations, the Lok Satta leaders said the disparities will widen if the farmer is not enabled to get remunerative prices for his produce. Lakhs of farmers have committed suicide after unremunerative farming landed them in a a debt trap whereas not a single person has ended his or her life because of a rise in the price of food grains.
The Lok Satta leaders conceded there are sections of people who deserve free or subsidized food grains. It, however, does not provide an excuse to the Government to deny freedom to the farmer to market his produce wherever he wants. It is high time the Govermet unschackled agriculture from the license-permit raj, they added.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Dr.JP and Farmer's Leaders Memorandum to C.M. On 'Paddy Purchase, Boiled, BPT Rice Export and Cane S.A.P'
The following is the text of the Memorandum that Lok Satta Party President Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan along with Party leaders and Independent Farmers' Organisations submitted to the Chief Minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy at Secretariat today (February 14, 2011, Monday).
Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy
Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
Dear Sri Kiran Kumar Reddy garu,
We, on behalf of independent farmers’ organizations and Lok Satta Party would like to convey our sense of deep disappointment over the Empowered Group of Ministers’ decision to permit exports of a meager one lakh tons of BPT 5204 (Sona Masuri) rice. More distressing is the government’s silence on export of boiled rice.
1. As you are well aware, heavy rains during the kharif season in our State left lakhs of tons of paddy discolored and damaged. Millers can convert such paddy into boiled rice, which has no takers in India at present but commands a good price overseas. Farmers have made distress sales of damaged paddy to millers since Governmental agencies are not active in the market.
2. By banning export of non-basmati rice for the last two years, the Government of India has caused incalculable harm to the farming community. Millers do not procure damaged paddy from farmers unless they can market the boiled rice outside the country. There is no market for boiled rice within India.
3. The decision to persist with the ban on non-basmati rice exports, barring the current minor relaxation, is unwarranted. As of January, the country has rice stocks of 175 lakh tons, against the buffer stock norm of 118 lakh tons. Against such a backdrop, the Government of India must protect farmers’ interests, as there are adequate stocks to meet the Public Distribution System requirements and domestic needs. Banning export of surplus food grains harms the interests of farmers and tenants severely, and undermines the national interest of export promotion.
4. We request you to persuade the Government of India to permit export of at least 15 lakh tons of Sona Masuri (BPT 5204) and 15 lakh tons of boiled rice. State-owned undertakings can undertake the exports considering that the international prices are ruling high, and share part of the profits with the farming community, which has suffered huge losses.
5. Andhra Pradesh is the only state imposing restrictions on sale of agricultural produce across the borders. I urge you to immediately order permanent lifting of all restrictions on food grains trade across the state borders so that there is an integrated market in the country, and AP farmers will get a better price.
6. We also request you to announce a State Advisory Price (SAP) of at least Rs.2300 per ton of sugarcane, considering the steep hike in costs of cultivation, cutting and transport and the satisfactory price of sugar the factories are obtaining. As per Supreme Court decision, the state government has the power to announce State Advisory Price. Since the government is silent, some of the sugar factories are exploiting the farmers’ vulnerability, and are paying below `2000 per MT, which is even lower than last year’s price, though the costs have gone up by 20%.
7. With farming becoming a losing proposition, farmers and tenants are migrating in droves to urban areas. No farmer these days wants his son or daughter to stick to farming because the future is going to be bleaker. Therefore, getting a fair and remunerative price for farm produce is critical for the health of rural economy. I therefore hope that you will intervene immediately to help paddy and sugarcane farmers in distress.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
A ‘blind’ Government of India and a ‘deaf’ Andhra Pradesh Government have been accentuating the serious crisis in the countryside with their anti-farmer policies, charged Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
If the Union and State Governments persisted with policies that only pauperized farmers, tenants and artisans dependent on them, the county would have to reckon with political instability and economic stagnation, Dr. JP told a media conference.
That as many as 40,000 families applied for ration cards during the current rachchabanda program in just one constituency – Kukatpally in Hyderabad - testified to the magnitude of the crisis in the rural economy and the consequent exodus to urban areas.
The immediate provocation for Dr. JP’s outburst was the Government of India decision to permit export of a mere one lakh tons of sona masuri (BPT 5204) against the demand for export of at least 15 lakh tons of the variety, produced largely in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The Government of India did not take cognizance of warehouses overflowing with old rice stocks and farmers reaping bumper harvests when it decided on the meager export quantum. The Union Government’s policies are in total contravention of the commitments it made to Parliament when India joined the World Trade Organization. Dr. Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee as Commerce Minister then had told Parliament that the Government would safeguard farmers’ interests by promoting exports and curbing imports through suitable mechanisms.
The Government of India would not allow rice exports, put a restriction on the quantum of cotton exports, allow duty-free import of edible oils and fish and followed a flip-flop policy on onions. It crafts all its policies only to depress farmers’ incomes.
The Andhra Pradesh Government till recently banned even inter-district movement of rice, not to talk of inter-State movement.
Dr. JP listed a charter of demands on behalf of the Lok Satta and independent farmers’ organizations to provide immediate relief to farmers.
The Union Government should permit export of 15 lakh tons of boiled rice and 15 lakh tons of sona masuri variety of rice. Paddy damaged in the December 2010 rains is useful for conversion into boiled rice which commands a market overseas. Public sector agencies could export such boiled rice which has no demand in India and share the profits with farmers who suffered losses in the rains.
The Andhra Pradesh Government should remove once and for all the ban on movement of paddy and rice.
The Union Government should not impose any restrictions on export of non-food items like cotton. Governments can procure them at rates prevailing overseas, if necessary. It is welcome to permit import of commodities in short supply only after imposing import duties. It should share the revenue with farmers as an incentive to maximize production.
The Andhra Pradesh Government should announce a State Advisory Price of at least Rs. 2300 a ton for sugarcane. It should utilize the hundreds of crores of market cess it collects every year to promote storage and processing facilities.
The Union and State Governments should integrate the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with agriculture to benefit both farmers and laborers.
When a reporter pointed out that Congress and Telugu Desam leaders were accusing each other of indulging in corruption running into Rs.1 lakh crore, Dr. JP said that both of them are speaking the truth although there may be the same dispute about the magnitude of the evil. That is why the Lok Satta Party would like the ruling and the Opposition parties to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act in the coming budget session of the Assembly. The Bill provides for exemplary punishment including imprisonment and confiscation of the ill-gotten wealth of the guilty.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Addressing media, the Lok Satta leaders said Mr. Chiranjeevi seemed to nurse the illusion of being a hero even in politics. But unlike in movies, voters are the real heroes in politics. In politics, politicians exist to serve people and not the other way round.
The Lok Satta leaders pointed out that Mr. Chiranjeevi had let down people by throwing his agenda to the winds, merging his party with the Congress and pledging to abide by its decisions.
People believed that as a charismatic leader, Chiranjeevi would provide an alternative to the Congress and the TDP. Instead, Mr. Chiranjeevi seemed to view voters as mere flag bearers and voting machines who could be taken for a ride.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao, Mr. Raja Reddy and Mr. V. Vijayender Reddy said deification of leaders is prevalent in some other traditional parties too. They regard politics as their private property.
In contrast to such parties, the Lok Satta believes in pursuing citizen-centric politics. People thirsting for new politics should embrace the Lok Satta Party, they said.
The Lok Satta leaders demanded that the Hindujas be asked to supply power from their proposed Visakhapatnam thermal power plant at NTPC rates as agreed to earlier, considering that the Government had allocated them land at a concessional rate and facilitated coal linkages. If the Hindujas’ demand for a higher rate of even a rupee per unit is conceded, the 1000 mw plant with a potential to produce 20 million units a day would impose a burden of Rs. 2 crore a day or more than Rs.700 crore a year on the people of the State.
The Lok Satta leaders also questioned the Government rationale in encouraging establishment of plants to generate three times more than the nearly 15,000 mw the State needs. Of that, nearly 28,000 mw is to come from merchant power plants. Such skewed policies may encourage economic growth in other States but saddle the State with avoidable pollution.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan called upon the youth to shed complacency and cowardice and make the Lok Satta as their forum to shape their destiny. The political climate for realizing their dreams has never been so conducive as of now, he added.
Commenting on the merger of the Praja Rajyam Party with the Congress, Dr. JP said that while the rise and fall of parties in a democracy is natural, the disappearance of the Praja Rajyam within a short period of its inception left a trail of despair among large sections of people. Such mergers might serve the power-oriented objectives of leaders but not people’s interests.
Dr. JP likened the 125-year-old Congress and the 28-year-old Telugu Desam to Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Barring the names of leaders, there are no basic differences between the two parties. In fielding candidates in elections and in choosing leaders, they focused on their families’ fortunes and not on people’s welfare.
The youth should unshackle themselves from such parties. “You have the right and power, the need and responsibility to shape your future. Become heroes in your lives. Do not be distracted by parties which try to divide you in the name of caste or religion. You will succeed if you unite and fight for your rights constitutionally and in a disciplined manner. Nothing is impossible if only you have the will. Take a leaf out of the revolts against dictatorships among people of West Asian countries in the recent past.”
Dr, JP said that the Lok Satta is planning to train 25000 youth in leadership skills and organize district conferences soon to turn the Lok Satta into a forum for the youth. He demanded that the Government impart skills to 10 lakh youth of Andhra Pradesh every year so that they would find livelihood opportunities. Such training would not cost more than Rs.2500 crore.
Dr, JP said that the Lok Satta Party, unlike other parties, is prepared for a sustained and systematic struggle to change the face of politics. It has always practiced what it preached. It believes that if the Government is sincere and serious it can ensure a better future for youth and farmers, eradicate corruption and empower people to solve their own problems. In this connection, he recalled that the U. S. Government had sentenced an Indian American doctor couple to 15 years in jail, imposed a penalty of $43 million, and confiscated its entire property for siphoning health care funds to drive home the point that corruption can be tackled if the Government is serious.
Saying that sections of media have become handmaidens of some political parties, he appealed to media persons to be objective and independent.
Answering a question, Dr. JP said that if anybody believed that the Government is out to combat corruption, he or she is living in a world of make-believe. Here is a Government which lacks guts to cancel irregular 2G spectrum allocations and recover lost money through a windfall tax.
In reply to another question, he said he did not subscribe to disruption of a legislature session as a means to further any demand. Legislatures are expected to mirror people’s problems and pin down Governments to address them.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Addressing media, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary Bhaskara Rao referred to the Prime Minister‘s warning that corruption might derail growth and said the economist-turned Dr. Manmohan Singh should walk the talk and not mouth platitudes.
The Lok Satta Party leaders said that the country would stand to lose heavily if those in authority, notwithstanding their unimpeachable integrity, remained mute spectators to the loot of the nation.
They specifically demanded that the:
- Government constitute an independent, empowered Lok Pal with powers to investigate and prosecute all those in authority ranging from the Prime Minister to the peon in a Government office
- Frame rules under the Benami Properties Act of 1988 and notify them to ferret out and attach properties acquired in benami names by powerful people
- Create a National Judicial Commission to appoint judges and act against the guilty
- Allocate all scarce national resources through competitive bidding and impose a tax on windfall profits, and
- Ratify the UN Convention against Corruption
They appealed to all parties to transcend their differences and mount a united fight against corruption immediately since the entire nation is exercised over the evil. Agitations by Opposition parties against ruling establishments for gaining political mileage would not serve the nation. Justice Shivraj Patil, who inquired into spectrum allocations, pointed out that irregularities had been committed both during the NDA and the UPA regimes.
They appealed to all parties in Andhra Pradesh to work together and get the Prevention of Corruption Act amended as proposed by Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan described Mr. K. Subrahmanyam as an outstanding citizen who made a difference to the country with his knowledge, passion, and perseverance. He was one of the few officials who shaped India’s nuclear doctrine and strategic vision whichever party happened to be in power and whoever happened to be Prime Minister. He succeeded even when he did not hold any formal office of authority because of his deep and fierce commitment to the country.
In a tribute to Mr. Subrahmanyam, who passed away yesterday, Dr. JP described him as a model civil servant, who went out of way in his call of duty. He was a man of rectitude, impartiality, and humility, who declined the nation’s second highest honor, ‘Padma Vibhushan’. He embodied all the best virtues in civil service and journalism.
India needs thousands of such nation-building Subrahmanyams, said Dr. JP.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
While formally welcoming the long overdue arrest of former Telecom Minister A. Raja and his former colleagues in the department, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that the Government of India come out of its stupor and energetically and aggressively pursue an anti corruption agenda.
That the Union Government has lost its moral authority to govern is evident from fact that its leading lights maintained there was no loss to the exchequer in the 2G spectrum allocation and that the appointment of Mr. Thomas as Vigilance Commissioner was impeccable.
The present symbolic arrest of Mr. Raja and his colleagues once more underlined that the Government was reacting to pressure exerted by the civil society, media, the Opposition and the judiciary on the eve of the Parliament’s budget session.
Dr. JP said that corruption in Indian polity cannot be eradicated without the institution of an independent and powerful Lok Pal. The Lok Pal should be empowered to initiate inquiries on its own, control the Central Bureau of Investigation and other concerned agencies and have an independent prosecutor. The Bill being considered by the Government contemplates the creation of a toothless Lok Pal.
Dr. JP reiterated his demand that all tainted and irregular 2G spectrum allocations be cancelled, windfall tax collected from operators who minted money without any value addition through resale of licenses and allocation of all scarce natural resources, including spectrum, through auction.
He also wanted the Government of India to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption without further loss of time and initiate vigorous steps for recovery of ill-gotten wealth Indians stashed in foreign tax havens.
Dr. JP hoped that the Supreme Court, which is seized of the 2G spectrum allocations, would bring the culprits to book and that investigative agencies would extend their whole-hearted cooperation to the apex court.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The Lok Satta Party today commented that the proposed alliance or merger between the Praja Rajyam and the Congress was an internal matter of those parties.
Talking to media personnel who met them, party leaders G. Raja Reddy and V. Vijayender Reddy said that political realignments revolving round power and not policies, however, would not serve the public. It was tragic that traditional political parties did not focus on fulfilling their election-eve pledges or addressing people’s pressing problems, Instead, they reveled in the old political game of enthroning or dethroning somebody.
The Lok Satta leaders appealed to all parties to adopt amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act proposed by their party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in the Budget session of the Legislature. The amendment assumes importance in the context of elected representatives hurling charges of corruption against each other and against top officials. The Bill provides for swift inquiry into corruption cases and exemplary punishment, including forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth, of the guilty.