Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
The Lok Satta Party today appealed to people to support it with "votes, notes and seats" in the March 18 by-elections to the State Assembly and give a fillip to the party's determination to usher in people-centric politics.
Addressing a media conference, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that although the party is fielding its candidates only in two constituencies – Kovur and Mahabubnagar, their success will have a great impact on the shape of things to come in State politics. "The outcome will not result in a change of Government. But the by-elections provide a golden opportunity for people to give vent to their pent up feelings on the rotten state of politics in the State."
Dr. JP said that people of the State are thirsting for corruption-free politics and rule of law, fair and remunerative prices for farmers for their produce, a complete overhaul of the present liquor policy which has resulted in thousands of women becoming widows and children orphans, and a bright future for the youth.
People can realize their dreams only when they vote for a party which gives expression to their inner most sentiments, Dr. JP said and recalled what Abraham Lincoln had said, "Public opinion is everything. With public opinion, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed."
Dr. JP underlined that Lok Satta candidates can win only when people vote for them and not when they refrain contending that the candidates cannot win. He likened the mainstream political parties to wolves fighting for the right to devour innocent lambs and asked people to vote for the Lok Satta and lay the foundation for ushering in an era of people-centered politics. He appealed to the youth, women, farmers and students to spare their time and work for the success of the Lok Satta Party.
Dr. JP introduced Mr. Mohd Ghouse Moinuddin, a 44-year-old educationist, as the party's candidate for Mahabubnagar Assembly by-election. Nellore Narasaiah is the candidate for Kovur Assembly by-election. In reply to a question, the party did not go into the caste or community of candidates while selecting them.
Dr. JP said in reply to a question that seizure of Rs.30 lakh cash from a vehicle in Mahabubnagar constituency is no news since it merely brings to light the tendency of mainstream parties to win elections at any cost.
Asked to comment on Mr. Arvind Kejriwal's comment that a number of MPs are rapists and murderers, Dr. JP said that civil rights activists committed to changing politics should refrain from making sweeping remarks and practice restraint.
The Lok Satta Party has constituted two teams to work for the party's success in Kovur and Mahabhubnagar.
The Kovur team comprises Messrs D. V. V. S. Varma, Katari Srinivasa Rao, Bhisetty Babji, A. Ramesh Reddy and Narra Sridhar.
The Mahabubnagar team comprises Messrs Ravi Maruth, V. Lsxamn Balaji, G. Raja Reddy, Bandaru Ramamohana Rao and V. Vijayender Reddy.
Messrs D. V. V. S. Varma, V. Ramachandraiaah, and B. Rami Reddy took part in the media conference.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
The Lok Satta Party has decided to field candidates in 2 out of 7 assembly seats for which by elections are scheduled to take place in March 18.
Lok Satta Party Working President DVVS Varma, and General Secretary V. Lakshman Balaji said in a media statement on Saturday that Mr. Nelluri Narsaiah will contest from Kovur constituency in Nellore district. The party would name a candidate for Mahaboobnagar seat on Feb 27.
The Lok Satta leaders said that the party is not fielding candidates in the 5 other seats to honour the Telangana sentiment of those who are seeking re-election after resignations.
Friday, February 24, 2012
It may be recalled that FIFA had defied Andhra Pradesh Government restrictions on movement of fine varieties of paddy and rice outside the State by marching into Karnataka and undertaking sales on February 19.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of FIFA and the Lok Satta Party, will lead the satyagraha yatra from Pocharam village in Nizamabad district at 10-00 a.m. tomorrow.
The farmers will reach Bodhan for the night after touching Nagireddipet, Ellareddy, Banswada, Varni and Rudrur en route
They will resume the yatra from Bodhan at 9-00 a.m. on February 26 and pass through Kotagiri, Yettonda, Pentakurru, Salampadu and Salur, anad cross the border check-post at Salur. They will undertake sale of paddy at Esgi in Nanded district of Maharashtra around 1-30 p.m. on February 26.
According to Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma, the farmers have launched the movement to protest against the ruinous policy of the Andhra Pradesh Government which would neither ensure the minimum support price nor allow farmers to sell paddy outside the State. The Andhra Pradesh Government's restrictions are illegal and run counter to Government of India directives, he says.
Farmers cutting across party lines are joining the movement. The Shetkari Sanghatan of Maharashtra too has extended its support to the yatra.
Dr. JP will be addressing public meetings and interacting with farmers at a number of places during the road show.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
The Lok Satta Party and the Federation of Independent Farmers’ Associations (FIFA) today welcomed the Union Rural Development Ministry decision to bring 30 kinds of agricultural operations under the purview of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma recalled that it was the Lok Satta Party and FIFA under the leadership of Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan which had first sought NREGS extension to the agriculture sector.
The measure will facilitate extension of a little investment subsidy to the farmer and provide relief to the crisis-ridden agriculture sector, said Mr. Varma.
He suggested that the NREGS allocate funds for 20 work days per acre and not merely 12 days as proposed to cover operations like sowing, weeding, application of fertilizer and pesticides and land leveling. The scheme should benefit farmers as well as tenants.
If farmers are united and have credible leaders, they can forge many victories in their battle for a better deal, Mr. Varma said.
Dear friends and concerned citizens,
When we started Lok Satta many years ago, it was like many civil society movements today. However, it became apparent over time that in order to bring about the change all of us are fighting for in our different ways, we have to operate in the political spaces as well, or else we will not be effective.
This goes against a lot of our sentiments about politics, but it is the bitter truth.
In more recent times, the fight against corruption run by so many organisations and groups across India has seen such massive public support, especially from the middle class, that many a political observer was surprised. This in turn has galvanised many Citizen Candidates into joining electoral battle in the recently concluded municipal elections in Mumbai and elsewhere. This trend will endure.
But let us also do better. While the 5-7% vote share these candidates collected is impressive for a first attempt, it is also clear that this could have been higher. The public perception of a splintered 'front' kept many Citizen Candidates from making the full impact that the crowds in anti-corruption rallies indicated.
We've been fragmented by the multiplicity of platforms, causing some confusion and maybe even suspicion of the new 'brands' that have suddenly cropped up for elections.
We can and must overcome this. Lok Satta is not only a party created out of an Andolan, but it also has a constitution that is tailor-made for all those who are fighting for open, transparent, equitable and clean government at all levels. Lok Satta has been designed to be an inclusive platform for all Indians seeking political transformation. It has always been recognized and acknowledged that Lok Satta is not owned by current members; it belongs to all India. The members and leaders at any point of time are humble custodians of a national platform. ‘Nation above party; and party above self’ is the motto of Lok Satta. Membership has to be open, and leadership has to be by democratic choice at all levels. Each of us can proudly call this our own platform.
The next round is to be played out in Delhi a few weeks from now. The lessons of Mumbai should not be forgotten, nor the fragmentation repeated in Delhi and elsewhere. It's time to act as one force. I am therefore inviting all our friends fighting for the same ideals to unite in the Lok Satta family.
Our internal democracy is a functioning, thriving culture and is just the platform on which all of us in civil society can join hands in the political arena. Our blemish-free past combined with our growing brand recognition in several states will enable all of us to hit the road running in the next round of elections and beyond.
Come, join us. We welcome you with open arms, recognising ourselves in each of you. We welcome not merely your support, but equally your passion and leadership to augment ours. There is too much to do; and too few of us willing to do it on a sustained basis. Let's fight together and do justice to our noble cause: Clean, Transparent, Equitable and Participative democratic government, and the promise of building a great new India together.
With warm regards,
Dr Jayaprakash Narayan
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations (FIFA) will once again be defying Andhra Pradesh Government restrictions on movement of fine varieties of paddy and rice outside the State by undertaking sales in Maharashtra on February 26.
It may be recalled that FIFA had defied the curbs and undertook sales in Karnataka on February 19.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of FIFA and the Lok Satta Party, will lead the satyagraha movement from Pocharam village in Nizamabad district to Esgi in Nanded district of Maharashtra on February 25.
Giving this information at a media conference, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said that the Andhra Pradesh Government would neither ensure the minimum support price for paddy, leave alone a fair and remunerative price, nor allow farmers to sell their produce outside the State where prices are ruling higher by about Rs.200 a bag. As a result of the State Government's ruinous policy, farmers have lost hundreds of crores of rupees in the last couple of years.
Mr. Varma pointed out that the State Government restrictions run contrary to Government of India directives.
Although FIFA had openly and publicly defied its orders, the somnolent State Government would neither lift restrictions nor arrest its violators, charged Mr. Varma.
Mr. Varma appealed to farmers to take part in the satyagraha movement cutting across party lines and added that the Shetkari Sanghatan of Maharashtra will participate it.
The farmers will set off from Pocharam village at 9-00 a.m. on February 25 and reach Bodhan for the night touching Yellareddy and Banswada en route. They will resume their journey from Bodhan at 9-00 a.m. on February 26, cross the border check-post at Saluru and undertake sale of paddy through auction at Esgi village in Nanded district. Dr. JP will be addressing and interacting with farmers during the satyagraha movement.
Mr. Varma disclosed that FIFA would repeat its violation of the illegal Andhra Pradesh Government orders by undertaking paddy sales in both Tamil Nadu and Orissa too.
Mr. Varma said that since the satyagraha movement has nothing to do with the impending by-elections, the election code does not apply to it.
Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, Lok Satta Party General Secretary, Mrs. N. Sarojadevi, Mahila Satta President, and M. Satyanarayana, Greater Hyderabad Lok Satta President, took part in the media conference.
Monday, February 20, 2012
The Lok Satta Party today condemned the physical attack on P. Madhu, former member of Parliament from CPM. In a media statement the Lok Satta Party working president DVVS Varma said that there is no place for physical attacks in a democracy. Differences if any, should be resolved through dialogue or debate.
He demanded that the government should arrest the miscreants immediately without giving space for political interference.
“The government’s policy of not allowing the farmers of the State to sell their produce in the neighbouring States has to be amended for their benefits. We would continue to agitate to rescue the farmers”
Raichur: The 'Rythu Satyagraha Padayatra' undertaken by Lok Satta Party President Jayaprakash Narayan on Saturday concluded in a tense atmosphere on Sunday. He kept his word of entering Karnataka with rice and selling it in that State, despite threats by police of arresting him if he ventured to do so, which was against the rules.
Narayan sold five quintals of paddy in an auction at Gilakasuguru in Raichur district in Karnataka. Karnataka people welcomed the Lok Satta leader and enthusiastically took part in the auction. Finally, a woman Ramalakshmi bagged the rice for Rs 1 lakh.
A victorious Lok Satta leader observed that no amount of threats or deterrence would have forced him to call off his yatra. He gave a call to the farmers of the state to take a cue from his successful yatra and sell their produce in Karnataka where the government was offering Rs 100 bonus per a bag of paddy sold by the farmers in that State. He lambasted the Kiran Kumar Reddy government for not allowing paddy exports from the state to other states.
“When the Central Government allows rice exports from Pakistan to India, the State Government is preventing the farmers from going to neighbouring State to sell the produce.
The Government should forthwith put an end to its anti-farmers policies and go to their rescue,” he said.
The Lok Satta leader announced that he would conduct more such campaigns for the sake of farmers to sell their produce in other neighbouring states, too. He said it was the right of the farmers to take their produce to the markets where prices were ruling high.
Earlier, commencing his padayatra in Mantralayam on the second day, he visited the temples of village deity Manchalamma and Sri Raghavendra Swamy. Later, he addressed a meeting of farmers.
He said that the export of rice to other State was part of his campaign to secure remunerative prices for the farmers and dared the government to arrest him for violation of the rules. He went in a procession to Chetnapalli where he was accorded a grand reception by the villagers including a large number of women.
He led a large group of farmers and supporters, who arrived from across the state, to Karnataka to prove that the farmers had every right to sell their produce wherever they wanted to get good price for their produce. He embarked on the padayatra from Emmiganoor in Kurnool district on Saturday and tried to rally the farmers to cross the boundaries of the State if need be.
Narayan reminded the farmers that though the Central Government had enacted the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, giving the farmers the right to sell their produce in neighbouring States, the Andhra Pradesh Government was preventing them from doing so. He also made it clear to the farmers that unless they came together to exert pressure on the government, the latter would not yield.
As the padayatra reached Madhavaram, a tense atmosphere descended on the procession with reports of the police preparing to arrest him. However, the Lok Satta leader was egged on by his supporters and farmers to carry on the yatra and dared the police to stop. Sensing trouble if they were to make any arrests, the police who were accompanying the procession relented and let them proceed on the way to Karnataka state.
Accompanied by a large number of people, Narayan cross the Tungabhadra river and entered the Karnataka State, much to the joy of the supporters.
Courtesy: The Hans India
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of the Federation of Independent Farmers’ Associations and Lok Satta Party, will be interacting with farmers and addressing public meetings during the two-day farmers’ 36-km satyagraha march from Yemmiganur in Kurnool district to Gilkasugur Camp in Raichur district of Karnataka on February 18 and 19.
FIFA has undertaken the satyagraha march to violate orders under the Essential Commodities Act under which Andhra Pradesh farmers and tenants cannot market fine verities of paddy and rice outside the State. Farmers and tenants will carry paddy and rice for sale in Karnataka as part of the satyagraha march.
Farmers will set off from Neelakanteswara temple at 9-00 a.m. on February 18 and touch Dharmapuram, Halaharvi, Chilakadona and Kalludevakunta villages and arrive at Mantralayama for the night. Dr. JP will garland the statue of Nachani Somappa and address farmers at Yemmiganur market yard and at Mugati bypass road.
Resuming the march from Mantralayam at 9-00 a.m. on February 19, the farmers will pass through Chetnepalli, Madhavaram, Tungabhadra villages and reach Gilkasugur Camp where they will effect paddy and rice sales. Dr. JP will be addressing farmers at Madhavaram and Gilkasugur Camp.
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today expressed his dismay over the State Government’s studied silence on policies relating to allotment of lands and mines and liquor auctions in the State budget for 2012-12.
Commenting on the budget introduced in the Legislative Assembly on February 17, Dr.JP recalled that the Supreme Court , in a petition filed by the Lok Satta and others on the 2G spectrum scam, had directed that all natural resources like land and mines, not merely 2G spectrum, be allocated on competitive bidding. Andhra Pradesh which has become the epicenter of corruption in allocation of lands and mines ought to have indicated compliance with the Supreme Court directive. Similarly, the Government did not utter a word on reviewing the present liquor policy which has been ruining poor people’s health and finances, besides spawning monumental corruption enveloping elected people’s representatives and bureaucrats.
Dr. JP, who is launching a farmers’ satyagraha march from Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka in defiance of the ban on sale of paddy and rice outside the State on February 18 and 19, said there seems to be an inverse relationship between Government’s words and deeds. The budget devoted long passages to the farm sector even as the Government offered little to rescue agriculture from the present crisis. Andhra Pradesh has the dubious distinction of realizing Rs.2600 crore as revenue, the highest for any State, by way of taxes and cess on agriculture but doing little to promote warehouse construction, or rejuvenating extension services. The Government claims to have spent Rs.74000 crore on jalayagnam so far and brought 16.9 lakh acres under irrigation, a figure much less than claimed in the last budget. There is no attempt at making a cost-benefit analysis.
Dr. JP pointed out that the allocation for school education is much less than the national average. Andhra Pradesh has the lowest literacy rate in southern India. The educational standards are abysmally poor. Although the Government spends thousands of crores of rupees on higher education, only 20 percent of graduates are employable. Healthcare continues to be in a parlous state with even teaching hospitals going without essentials like intravenous fluids.
Dr. JP faulted the Government for not attempting to plug leakages in welfare schemes. He pointed out that the State and Central Governments spend almost Rs.10000 crore a year as subsidy on the public distribution system. The sad fact, however, is that up to 60 percent of food grains meant for distribution to the poor are recycled and flow back to Government warehouses by way of procurement. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, on which the State Government spends Rs.7000 crore a year, is not resulting in the creation of any durable assets.
There is large scale siphoning of funds both under the PDS and the NREGS. Even Central grants are not being utilized properly by the State in crucial sectors. The Gram Nyayalayas Act was enacted in 2009 by Parliament after years of advocacy and struggle by the Lok Satta. Even three years later the State is not utilizing Central funds to start a court in every mandal to ensure speedy justice to the poor. The State is not utilizing Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and Madhyamika Siksha Abhiyan funds in education because it does not release its share in full. The Janani Suraksha Bima Yojana, the health insurance scheme for the poor, is not utilized by AP. We are losing hundreds of crores of rupees annually because of sheer neglect and callousness.
Dr. JP said the allocation to local governments in the Rs.1.46 lakh crore budget is a mere Rs.675. The Government claims to have spent Rs.20000 crore on power subsidy in the last four years. Yet villages and small industries continue to go without power even to this day.
Dr. JP said that budgetary figures have lost their sanctity as there is a gap of 10 to 17 percent between budget estimates and actuals. For instance, the 2011-12 budget claimed a revenue surplus of Rs.2800 crore whereas the actual figure turns out to be Rs.700 crore.
Dr. JP welcomed the Government’s move to computerize all land records and extend e-seva services all over the entire State. The scheme should be fully implemented in 2012 all over the State to end petty corruption and harassment of students, youth and the poor.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
By Jayaprakash Narayan
Today in India, there is a certain lynch mentality. We are willing to believe the worst about those in public office, be it politicians, bureaucrats or judges. That unless proved otherwise, the fellow is a thorough crook. This is not a very happy situation. We can understand why it has come about. People are vexed, there is a terrible crisis of legitimacy and monumental corruption. There is enormous anger.
But then there are also bonafide acts by officials which go wrong. Many a time due to the pressure of doing one hundred things at the same time, things do go wrong. No human being can say he will always be perfect. You must acknowledge that there is an inherent possibility of error in government decisions.
As long as there is no criminal intent and due diligence is done which essentially means reasonable exercise of caution, you cannot hold a person's decision wrong in hindsight. At best you could order a departmental enquiry, a rap on the knuckles. Corruption is a matter of criminal intent and an objective person should be able to distinguish between the two.
Now if each segment keeps saying that while I may be guility, you should first go after him, it is not right. I remember a R K Laxman cartoon many years ago saying the enquiry report has come and that the report says no one in the country is guilty of any wrong and that whatever is happening in the country is happening on its own !
The country is in an awful mess and let us first acknowledge that. We have third rate governance. People are not getting what they are entitled to. There is monumental inefficiency and corruption. There is arrogance of power and delay.
But the IAS officers should not behave as if they are peons and clerks. The IAS has awesome prestige and authority and protection under the Constitution of India. This class of people are chosen from among thousands of people. At the age of 30, you give them immense power over 3 million people in a district where they get to play a significant role in legislation and implementation of policy.
Now if they turn back and say we have nothing to do with the decisions, that is not the right thing to do. I agree that the politician must be hanged from the nearest lamp post, after due process of law. I am all for it. But the IAS officer cannot say that he is just a small fish and I was told to do this and that, therefore I did.
The IAS officer takes an oath to protect the Constitution of India, not to protect partisan interests. If he is being asked to pass a wrong order, he must resist.
A clerk and a police constable can say he is a mercenary but the DGP, or an SP or IAS officer cannot claim that. If they behave like clerks, the system will collapse as they will be undermining themselves.
We have to protect the honest officers from vindictive witchhunt. But more importantly, we have to protect society because today it is not the officer who needs protection. It is Indian society that needs protection from the governing classes because they have been governed very poorly.
(Jayaprakash Narayan is a former IAS officer and now President of Loksatta Party. He is an MLA in the Andhra Pradesh assembly)
The Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations today charged the Andhra Pradesh Government with contravening Government of India directives under the Essential Commodities Act by banning inter-State movement of fine varieties of paddy and rice.
Addressing a media conference, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of FIFA and the Lok Satta Party, pointed out that although the Government of India unambiguously stipulated that there shall be no curbs on inter-State movement, the Andhra Pradesh Government has taken law into its own hands by banning sale of paddy and rice outside the State by farmers and tenants. "It is behaving like a street rowdy," fulminated Dr. JP.
"The farmer in India is facing ruin not because of the vagaries of nature but because of the cruel and unjust policies of State and Central Governments. It is the Government that has become an albatross round the farmer's neck," charged Dr. JP.
The State Government itself had removed the barriers on movement of rice and paddy outside the State a couple of years ago citing heavy losses to farmers because of the steep decline in local prices.
Although prices have once again crashed this year against the backdrop of a steep increase in the cost of production, the Andhra Pradesh Government would not permit movement of rice and paddy outside the State.
FIFA is launching a Dandi-like farmers' satyagraha March on February 18 and 19 to defy the unjust laws and regulations that are dealing a body blow to farmers. Farmers and tenants starting from Yemmiganur in Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh will march to Gilkasugur in Raichur district of Karnataka and effect token sale of paddy in defiance of the Andhra Pradesh Government ban. "Let the Government arrest and prosecute farmers and me," said Dr. JP who had given notice of FIFA's action program to the Chief Minister on February 2 itself.
The State Government is blind and dumb in that refuses to see the farmers' plight or listen to wise counsels, said Dr. JP.
FIFA would repeat its defiance of unjust laws and regulations by organizing a similar march from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh to Nanded in Maharashtra.
It is time farmers all over the country transcending parties and crops they grow joined hands and demanded dismantling of the present license-permit raj. They should fight Governments but not end their lives in despair, he said pointing out that over 2.3 lakh farmers had committed suicide in the last 15 years.
Dr. JP said that farmers do not get even the minimum support price for any produce, leave alone a fair and remunerative price. The Government, which cannot ensure payment of even the MSP, denies the farmer the freedom to market his produce outside the State. In contrast, an industrialist can sell his manufactured products anywhere he wants. On top of it, he gets a subsidy if he chooses to export it outside the country.
The Government harms the farmers' interest by allowing duty-free import of edible oil even as it regulates farm produce exports. The country witnesses a lot of breast-beating whenever prices of onions and tomatoes go up but not a tear is shed when their prices plummet. The State Government which collects hundreds of crores of rupees on marketing of agricultural produce would not utilize the amount to provide warehouses for farmers to store their produce and get pledge loans.
Referring to the grouse in certain circles over his inclusion in a House committee to go into Government land deals, Dr. JP disclosed he had told the Speaker that he would step down to make way for those who feel they are under-represented. He said he had rejected both the ruling Congress and the Opposition TDP during the no-confidence vote because he regarded both parties as wolves fighting for the right to devour innocent lambs. "They represent the corrupt and failed politics of the past. The Lok Satta represents politics of the future and gives hope and leadership to youth," Dr. JP said.
Lok Satta Party Working President Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary P. Bhaskara Rao took part in the media conference.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan’s address to the joint session of the State Legislature is deeply disappointing in that it reflected neither introspection nor direction, commented Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party President and MLA from Kukatpally.
The Governor went through the Constitutional ritual and indulged in sheer escapism by not touching upon many grave issues confronting the State, added Dr. JP.
The Lok Satta leader pointed out that although Andhra Pradesh has emerged as the epicenter of corruption going by the number of CBI and ACB raids in the recent past, the Governor does not even acknowledge it as a problem, leave alone indicate what his Government plans to do about it. There is not even a cursory acknowledgment of the liquor mafia bribing Ministers, legislators, bureaucrats and media as revealed by ACB raids. The Governor is silent on the Telangana problem which has been agitating all the regions of the State. Although passions might have subsided, concerns remain very much. Yet, the Governor does not talk of empowering people and engendering confidence among them.
Dr. JP faulted the Governor for maintaining eloquent silence on the recent Supreme Court judgment on allocation of 2G spectrum and all other natural resources in a petition filed by the Lok Satta and others. The Lok Satta Party, he recalled, had exposed the State Government’s capricious allotment of vast tracts of coastal areas to private parties to such an extent that it could not provide a suitable site for a shipbuilding proposed by the Union Government.
Dr. JP said the Governor does not acknowledge the crisis in the agriculture sector. The State Government has not been able to ensure the minimum support price for a number of crops and does not bother even to announce the State advised price (SAP) for sugarcane. The Federation of Independent Farmers’ Associations (FIF) is organizing a Dandi-like march from Andhra Pradesh to Karnatka to defy the law which prevents farmers from marketing paddy/rice outside the State.
Referring to the parlous state of the healthcare sector, Dr. JP said that even teaching hospitals are going without intravenous fluids like dextrose and saline and material for carrying out urine sugar tests. Educational standards in schools have plummeted going by annual surveys. Many parts of the State capital are reeling under severe water shortage even as the entire countryside is going without power. Yet, the Governor would not say what the Government proposes to do.
Dr. JP said the State’s claim of being fiscally responsible is hollow going by the Principal Accountant General’s report. The Union Government withdrew the Rs.703 crore it falsely claimed as incentive under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act in 2008-09. During 2009-10, the State once again claimed to have conformed to Central fiscal guidelines by halting all deposit transactions.
The Governor’s address comes as a deep disappointment, said Dr. JP.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
During the budget session of the Legislative Assembly beginning from February 13, the Lok Satta Party will focus its attention on the liquor policy, relief to the crisis-ridden farmer, elections to local bodies and resolution of issues raised by various sections.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma appealed to all parties to help facilitate a thorough discussion on the issues.
Mr. Varma said that all parties should join hands in getting the present liquor policy, which has spawned a politics-dictating liquor mafia, changed. All the members transcending their party barriers should ensure that justice is done to farmers. Farmers have not been able to get even the minimum support price whatever crop they raise. The Government would not allow them to market paddy and rice outside the State. The members should exert pressure on the Government and ensure elections to municipalities and panchayat raj bodies take place. The ruling party, rocked by corruption scams and internal fights, has deferred the elections fearing defeat. The Assembly should also help resolve issues over which a number of sections are on the warpath as governance has come to a standstill because of party politics.
Mr. Varma demanded that the Government do away with special and discretionary funds being allocated to the Chief Minister and MLAs and utilize them for priority sectors. The priorities in the forthcoming budget should shift from extending temporary sops to making people self-reliant. It should allocate funds for ensuring quality education, healthcare and skills to all, baling out agriculture from crisis, and rejuvenating industry. Local governments should be empowered with devolution of funds and powers.
Mr. Varma appealed to all parties to pass the budget only after a thorough discussion.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Addressing a media conference, Mr. Varma said the State Government has gone into a comatose state either because of internal power struggles or endless corruption scams. Otherwise, it ought to have lifted restrictions on export of fine varieties of paddy and rice outside Andhra Pradesh by now.
He recalled that the Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations (FIFA) had warned the Chief Minister ten days ago that farmers and tenants would violate the restrictions on February 18 and 19 if the Government did not lift them by February 17.
Mr. Varma said that Andhra Pradesh enjoyed the dubious distinction of being the only State in the country which restricted paddy and rice movement outside the State. Even the Government of India conceded the farmers' demand for permitting rice exports outside the country but the State Government would not relent.
Why should farmers be denied the right to sell their produce anywhere when there are no similar curbs on industrialists?
Mr. Varma pointed out that a Government which announced a minimum support price for a produce should ensure that the farmer gets it. The farmer in Andhra Pradesh is not receiving the minimum support price for paddy, leave alone a remunerative price. Although paddy fetches Rs.150 more than the MSP for a bag of 75 kg in Karnataka, Andhra farmers cannot move it there.
FIFA is launching the farmers' satyagraha march under the leadership of Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan on February 18 and 19. Farmers and tenants will march from Yemmiganur in Kurnool district to Mantralayam, cross the Tungabhadra and enter Gilkasugur Camp in Karnataka to effect token sale of rice.
Mr. Varma released a poster and a pamphlet on the proposed farmers' satyagraha march.
Lok Satta Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said that Dr. JP will be defying the Essential Commodities Act in the interests of farmers. Therefore, farmers irrespective of their parties, regions and crops they grow should join the movement meant to liberate them.
Lok Satta Party Secretary Bandaru Ramamohana Rao, and Greater Hyderabad unit President M. Satyanarayana took part in the media meet.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The Lok Satta Party supports the demand for creation of more districts in Andhra Pradesh, said its President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
Pointing out that Andhra Pradesh has many large districts geographically, Dr. JP said the time has come for splitting large districts to make administration accessible and empower people through decentralization.
He was talking to leaders of Siddipet District Forum who represented to him on the need for constitution of Siddipet district.
Dr. JP recalled that only three new districts have been formed after Andhra Pradesh came into existence. Supporting the Siddipet district demand, Dr. JP said that the Government should study which mandals of Medak, Karimnagar, Warangal and Nalgonda districts should be included in the proposed district.
Siddipet District Forum Convener Vanga Ramachandra Reddy and Coordinator Thummanapalli Srinivas led the delegation.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana, facing charges of accepting a bribe from a liquor syndicate, resign immediately accepting moral responsibility and face the ACB inquiry. It also wanted the Government to suspend all officials figuring in the ACB report as bribe takers. Similarly, media managements should act against their employees found guilty in the liquor scandal. Legislators facing charges should cooperate with the inquiry without distracting it.
The Lok Satta Party spelt out its stand on the liquor scam unearthed by the Anti Corruption Bureau at a media conference. Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Lok Satta Party Working President, and party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, P. Ravi Maruth, K. Gita Murthy, and M. Mahalakshmi addressed the media.
The ACB raids have revealed, said the Lok Satta leaders, that all 'sampradaya rajakiya' (sara) (traditional political) parties including the Congress and the Telugu Desam have been guilty of turning Andhra Pradesh into a 'Madyandhrapradesh' by being partners in liquor trade and in forming liquor syndicates despite their protestations against the liquor menace. Although the players in the liquor trade belong to different parties, they are hand in glove with each other. The traditional political parties have been fielding liquor traders as their candidates in elections.
The Lok Satta leaders demanded that Left parties, which call for curbs on liquor consumption, should explain how they could accept donations from liquor syndicates which have been fleecing people by opening illegal outlets and selling liquor above the maximum retail price. Political parties which have colluded with liquor syndicates should openly apologize to the public.
The Lok Satta leaders said the Government has spawned and nurtured corruption by auctioning liquor outlets to highest bidders. The licensees in turn promoted belt shops and sold liquor over and above the maximum retail price. They demanded that the Government take over retail liquor trade, limit the number of shops and sales timings, make the ACB autonomous and bring it under the Lokayukta purview,
In reply to a question, Mr. Varma asserted that the party would expel anyone found guilty of accepting donations from the liquor lobby.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The Lok Satta Party will be offering its views and suggestions on the Right of Citizens for Time-bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 now before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law & Justice in New Delhi on February 8.
The Lok Satta team, being led by party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan and General Secretary Surendra Srivatsava, includes party leaders Mr. Ashwin Mahesh from Karnataka, and Mr. Sandeep Varma and Mr. Milan Gupta from Delhi.
It may be recalled that the Lok Satta drafted a citizen's charter as early as in 2000 and worked for municipalities in Andhra Pradesh adopting it in 2001.
Monday, February 6, 2012
The Lok Satta Party today demanded that the Union Government route not merely Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) but all funds directly to panchayats.
Union Minister for Panchayat Raj Kishore Chandra Dev had suggested to the Planning Commission that allocations under the BRGF should be made directly to village panchayats since allocation to districts resulted in their diversion to developed areas and defeated the very purpose of the scheme.
Commenting on the Union Minister's statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said in a media statement that funds meant for local governments should be given to them directly without any intermediaries.
He pointed out that although the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments stipulated that State Governments devolve powers, responsibilities and funds on local governments, States like Andhra Pradesh have failed to implement them utilizing their discretionary powers. The States should be denied such discretionary powers by enacting the Constitutional amendment pending since 2010, Mr. Varma said.
Mr. Varma recalled that the Lok Satta had launched a movement as early as in 2003 by submitting a memorandum signed by more than one crore people for genuine devolution of powers on local bodies through decentralization. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission of which Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party President, was a member recommended such devolution.
Mr. Varma demanded that funds be allocated to local bodies on a proportionate basis. Local bodies should be empowered to ensure proper utilization of funds meant for education and healthcare and reining in liquor consumption. Effective rural development will prevent migration of people to urban areas and influx into extremist ranks.
The underlying principle of the Supreme Court's landmark verdict to annul 2G licences should extend to all scarce natural resources.
The Supreme Court decision in two writ petitions filed by Loksatta and several eminent citizens, and Dr Subramanian Swamy, cancelling 122 licenses of 2G spectrum, gives a tremendous boost to the fight against collusive corruption.
In October 2010, Loksatta launched a campaign to cancel licences. A letter was sent to the Prime Minister urging cancellation on the following grounds:
The corporates which colluded with bribe-takers and caused a colossal loss to the Exchequer shouldn't benefit from corruption. A contract tainted by corruption, ineligibility of licensees and arbitrariness, and has caused injury to public property is void, because the consideration or purpose of agreements is unlawful as per Sections 23 and 24 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
The Parliament and Government have sovereign powers to undo the wrong. When legitimate private assets could be nationalised as a matter of public policy, it would be perfectly legitimate and necessary to revoke licenses secured in a corrupt and arbitrary manner, causing loss to the Exchequer.
THE GRAVY TRAIN
In her article ‘Spectrums of Taint' (Business Line, November 16, 2010), the author quoted Loksatta extensively, arguing in support of cancellation of licences. In December 2010, we urged several prominent citizens to join in filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court to cancel the licenses. Mr J .M. Lyngdoh, Mr T. S. Krishnamurthy, Mr N. Gopalaswami — all former CECs, Mr P. Shankar, former CVC, Mr Julio Rebeiro, former IPS officer, and Admiral R. H. Tahiliani, Mentor, Transparency International India joined the effort, and Prashant Bhushan, senior advocate, took up the case on our behalf.
The verdict of February 2 has profound implications for the future, encompassing a whole range of issues involving allotment of land, mining leases and dispensation of other state patronage at national and state levels. There are those who argue that cancellation of licences might send a wrong message to foreign investors and MNCs. This isn't true.
Even if there are short-term complexities, in the long term, fair competition, transparency, and rule of law will promote investment and growth. Many investors do business in India with great difficulty, and try their best to distance themselves from ubiquitous corruption by creating several buffers — consultants, Indian partners and professionals who deal with corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. If this verdict leads to a healthy, fair, competitive business environment and transparent decision-making, everybody gains.
Which is a better policy — auction or first-come-first served? Ideally, auction of scarce natural resources should be the norm. If tariffs are likely to go up on account of exuberant market sentiment and overbidding and over-pricing, then the bidding could be for revenue sharing or some other appropriate model, not for licence fee. Non-competitive processes are highly prone to collusive corruption, as the 2G case has amply demonstrated. The arbitrariness, change of rules at will, entry of players who have nothing to do with the telecom sector, sale of spectrum for windfall profits days after allotment without any value addition, and other facts and circumstances that have come to light in the 2G spectrum case clearly demonstrate the corrupt behaviour of decision-makers and corporates.
In respect of allotment of precious lands, and mining leases, competitive bidding must be the norm. For this, the mining law needs to be amended. Supreme Court verdict should be made applicable to allocation of all scarce natural resources; Gali Janardhana Reddy and the like, and many land sharks in the guise of industry should be subjected to the standards set by Supreme Court in this landmark case.
What other steps should we take to curb collusive corruption and to protect public revenues? Three specific steps are needed now. First, a law should be enacted by Parliament making all contracts involving corruption, or a loss to the Exchequer, void and unenforceable. This will remove all incentives for corporates to bribe any public official to get a favour. A company that loses the bribe amount as well as the business or benefit or favour received through corruption is unlikely to resort to bribery. Only then can we demand corporate integrity and create a level playing field.
Second, a windfall profit tax should be imposed on all those who secured a license or mining lease or other natural resource, and made huge profit without value addition. This will ensure that excess profits made out of a vital public resource are retained with the Exchequer, and aren't appropriated by private interests. Mere private monopoly of public assets shouldn't be a source of unusual profits, even if there is no corruption in the transfer of asset. Such a windfall profit tax was imposed in the UK in 1997, in respect of North Sea Oil, and the monopolies in electricity, telecom, airports, gas, water, and railway sectors.
Third, a law similar to the False Claims Act in the US should be enacted in India. This law allows imposition of a civil penalty five times the loss sustained by the Exchequer in any public procurement or transfer of natural resource.
If a product is overpriced relative to the best customer of the company, or the asset is underpriced while transferring from State to a Corporate, or there is compromise in quality or environmental damage, or the Exchequer has lost money through fraud, bribery or wrongdoing, then any citizen can file a claim, and a court after hearing is empowered to impose five times the loss as penalty. The citizen gets a share of the penalty as incentive. Under the False Claims Act in the US, more than $24 billion has been recovered from corporates during the past 23 years, in 10,650 cases.
We need to move beyond the politics of the 2G case and corruption scandals. Systematic, far-sighted, practical steps are needed to curb collusive corruption. The Supreme Court verdict is an important first step to cleanse our system.
(The author, Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan, is the founder of Lok Satta movement, and former member of Second Administrative Reforms Commission.)
Courtesy: Business Line
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Supreme Court Judgement on 2G
Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be visiting Narasaraopet in Guntur district on Sunday, February 5.
Arriving at Narasaraopet from Peda Kakani at 4-00 p.m., Dr. JP will visit the relay hunger-strike camp being run by the Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations (FIFA) to draw the Government's attention to farmers' problems. Dr. JP will make the participants give up the fast.
At 5-30 p.m., he will interact with farmers at Ikkurti village in Narasaraopet mandal.
Dr. JP will be returning to Hyderabad after taking part in the anniversary celebrations of Victory Degree College at Narasaraopet.
Friday, February 3, 2012
In an ultimatum to the Andhra Pradesh Government, the Federation of Independent Farmers' Association (FIFA) has warned that if restrictions on rice and paddy movement outside Andhra Pradesh are not lifted before February 17, farmers and tenants will defy the ban orders from February 18.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, President of FIFA and the Lok Satta Party, announced the decision to defy the ban after submitting a memorandum to the Chief Minister on February 2. Farmers and tenants will march from Yemmiganur to Mantralayam in Kurnool district, cross the border into Karnataka and effect sale of rice/paddy.
A 75-kg bag of fine variety of paddy today fetches the farmer only Rs.750 to Rs.800 in Andhra Pradesh as against Rs.900 to Rs.950 in Karnataka. The same variety of paddy earned the farmer Rs.1100 two years ago.
In its representation, FIFA told the Chief Minister that farmers and tenants are losing heavily because of the restrictions on movement of paddy and rice on the one hand, and the spiraling costs of production on the other.
Addressing media, Dr. JP said that the State Government ban on movement especially of fine rice and paddy contravenes Government of India directives.
Dr. JP said that FIFA is spearheading the farmer's satyagraha to protest against the policies ruining farmers' lives. "We will not be deterred by threats of arrests or detentions, since defiance of illegal restrictions is our moral responsibility," declared Dr. JP.
FIFA leaders Y. Nagendranath, Sankara Reddy, Dasaradharamai Reddy, and Hanumanta Reddy, and Lok Satta Working President D. V. V. S. Varma took part in the media meet.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
2G Cancellation - a First step to curb corporate collusion - Lok Satta welcomes Supreme Court Verdict
Lok Satta Party welcomed wholeheartedly the Supreme Court decision today canceling the 122 licenses of 2G spectrum granted without transparency or competition.
Welcoming the decision of the Court holding that the 2G licenses were issued in a “totally arbitrary and unconstitutional” manner, Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, president of Lok Satta said “This is a vital step in the fight against corporate corruption and collusion. The fight must now be extended to mining leases and land allotments granted without competition and transparency.” The party expressed the confidence that the Court’s decision of denying the fruits of corruption to the corporates will deter them from indulging in massive collusive corruption at the cost of the country.
Lok Satta filed the petition for cancellation of licenses, and involved eminent Indians like JM lyngdoh, TS Krishnamurthy, N.Gopalaswamy, P.Shankar, Admiral Tahiliani; and Julio Rebiero. The logic of Lok Satta is that unless the bribe giver in cases of collusion is denied the benefits of corruption, there will be no deterrence against future fraud and collusion. Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioners.
Dr JP said, “This is only a key milestone; but many more instruments should be in place to curb corruption.” Lok Satta is working on the service delivery law with Parliamentary Committee. The delayed Lokpal Bill should be enacted into law soon. Lok Satta proposed a National Judicial commission for appointment and removal of judges of Higher Courts, and an all-India Judicial Service for remitting subordinate judges. Both these are in an advanced stage, and both government and opposition in Parliament are in favour of the judicial reforms.
“The battle is long and the road is bumpy. India will be corruption-free in a decade’s time. We need unity, focus, clarity and relentless pursuit of specific goals.” Dr JP said.