Thursday, February 28, 2013
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has let down the nation by squandering the golden opportunity to pull the country out of the economic morass, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing a media conference on the Union budget, Dr. JP recalled that the economic crisis today is in some ways worse than in 1991 going by the fiscal and current account deficits. While the 1991 crisis was the result of license-permit raj, today's crisis is attributable to the sins of omission and commission of the Government. The dismantling of the license-permit raj unleashed the animal spirits of entrepreneurs in 1991 whereas the Government now has let go the opportunity of undoing its blunders.
Dr. JP congratulated Mr. P. Chidambaram on limiting the current year's fiscal deficit to 5.3 percent and next year's to 4.8 percent. But that alone will not rescue the economy.
Dr. JP said that Mr. Chidambaram rightly talked about the importance of 'opportunities, education, skills, jobs and incomes' in eradicating poverty. Although he repeated the Lok Satta idiom, he has done precious little to address them.
Dr. JP said that Mr. Chidambaram has not focused on many things all of which have a great bearing on creation of jobs and generation of incomes. There is no rule of law and corruption has become the order of the day. The power and transport sectors are in an abysmal state. The country is forced to import millions of tons of coal every year although it has billions of tons of coal reserves. Education is in a parlous state. The incomes of farmers and farm workers have been plummeting year after year.
Dr. JP pointed out that successive Government's focus on vote bank politics for short-term gains has landed the country in the crisis. Andhra Pradesh is faring no better. The Economic Survey highlighted that growth in Andhra Pradesh has been decelerating whereas it is galloping in States like Bihar. Bad governance is to blame for the present state of affairs.
Dr. JP welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on the Babli project in Mahrashtra and said thee is no reason why Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra cannot come to an amicable settlement when India and Pakistan could sort out a dispute over Bagligarh.
Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Lok Satta Party State Working President and Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Convener of the Federation of Independent Farmers' Associations, took part in the media conference.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Lok Satta Party and the Federation of Independent Farmers’ Associations (FIFA) are organizing a round-table conference of political parties and farmers’ organizations on March 1 to discuss a plan of action on the future of Nizam Sugars.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will preside over the meeting being held at Sundaraiah Vignana Bhavan in Bagh Lingampalli at 10-00 a.m.
Giving this information in a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma recalled that the Andhra Pradesh High Court had directed the State Government to act in accordance with the recommendations of an Assembly Committee on the future of Nizam Sugars.
The Lok Satta Party and FIFA have already been fighting against privatization of Nizam Sugars which is detrimental to the interests of farmers and the State exchequer. The round-table conference is being organized with a view to crafting a united plan of action.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
"Status quoist, pedestrian and disappointing." That was how Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan reacted to the railway budget presented to the Lok Sabha today.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said that the Union Government has neither the will nor imagination to make transport network the engine of growth. He recalled that China has just completed a 2600-km-long high-speed railway track which can be covered in just eight hours whereas we continue to live with antiquated infrastructure.
Dr. JP said that new projects are being announced even as projects worth Rs.2 lakh crore have been pending. The railways do not have funds to modernize signals, leave alone create high speed rail networks.
Dr. JP pointed out that the freight handled by the railways has slumped to less than 20 percent now from 80 percent at the time of Independence. The diversion of traffic to road networks has forced the country to squander precious foreign exchange on import of petroleum products for facilitating road traffic.
Dr. JP regretted that the Indian economy is crippled as transport and power ,the two lynchpins of growth, are in a shambles.
Lok Satta Party State General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said that execution of the second phase of the MMTS in Hyderabad does not find a place in the budget. Similarly, there is no reference to development of Tirupati and Secunderabad as world-class railway stations, a promise made in the previous year's budget. The long-pending and popular request for inclusion of Visakhapatnam division in the South Central Railway has not been addressed. He said the Union Railway Minister has not focused on projects nearing completion.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
The Vice President of India and the Union Law Minister have expressed their support in principle to electoral reforms and certain key bills which the Lok Satta has proposed to empower people in politics and governance.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan gave this information in a media statement here today. During his visit to New Delhi on February 19 and 20, Dr. JP met a number of key people in the Government and political parties seeking their support for electoral, judicial and panchayat raj reforms and Bills.
In his discussions with Vice President Dr. Hamid Ansari, Dr. JP underlined the importance of proportional representation system to enable the best and the brightest to contest elections without the need for tainted money and muscle power, constitution of a National Judicial Commission to ensure judicial appointments without political interference and an Indian Judicial Service to enable the competent to enter the judiciary. Dr. Hamid Ansari told Dr. JP he would do his best to ensure that the reforms take shape.
Union Law Minister Aswini Kumar pledged his support to the Lokpal Bill to eradicate corruption, Citizens' Services Guarantee Bill to extend Government services as a matter of right in a specified period, and Bills to constitute a National Judicial Commission and Indian Judicial Service. The, Lok Satta at the instance of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, had prepared a single Bill to cover both general and electronic services. The Union Law Minister promised to get the Services Guarantee Bill along with the Lokpal Bill passed in Parliament. Dr. JP also discussed electoral reforms including the proportional system of representation with the Law Minister.
Dr. JP held wide-ranging discussions with Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, Chairman and members of the committee of experts appointed by the Union Rural Development Ministry to suggest measures for improving services in panchayats. Constitution of one council to look after the entire administration in a district and ensuring a per capita grant of Rs.1000 in all village panchayats formed part of the discussions.
Dr. JP in his discussions with the expert committee suggested the following reforms:
1. Reconstitution of village panchayats or formation of panchayat clusters to ensure that such an entity has a minimum population of 10,000. Such a panchayat should have an office with all modern ITC facilities, high school, hospital, veterinary hospital, market yard for farmers, bus station, mobile court and bank branch.
2. Mandatory implementation of citizen's charter in every village to ensure that Government services are extended in a specified period and payment of compensation in case of delay.
3. Computerization of treasuries all over the country to ensure that funds released by the Central Government are routed to institutions directly.
4. At least 50 percent of the Rs.1,80,000 crore released by the Union Government for various schemes annually should be routed directly to panchayat raj institutions, especially village panchayats. Allocation of the lion's share of funds to panchayats will facilitate a per capita grant of Rs.1000. It will help panchayats address a number of local problems and ensure participation of citizens in politics and local administration. An ombudsman can be constituted at the district level to prevent corruption in utilization of funds and facilitate attachment of properties and removal of the corrupt from offices.
5. There should be a council at the district level bringing all municipalities and village panchayats under its purview.
Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar welcomed the proposals and promised appropriate measures from the Government-end.
Dr. JP, who had already met President Pranab Mukherjee, said that he would be meeting leaders of all main political parties soon and try to build a consensus for fundamental reforms. The Lok Satta, he said, believed that the Government and political establishments would help usher in reforms to ensure a bright future for India.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today whole-heartedly welcomed the Supreme Court verdict permitting elections to local bodies as per existing reservations and demanded that the State Government conduct the elections without further delay.
Addressing a media meet, Dr. JP said that local body elections instead of being held on schedule like elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha have been postponed repeatedly under some pretext or the other. Courts too had to share the blame for postponement of elections in violation of 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution.
Dr. JP demanded that the State Government empower the Election Commission decide on reservations, instead of retaining the powers for itself.
Besides conducting elections, the State Government should make a per capita grant of about Rs.2000 to village panchayats and municipal wards or divisions so that people at the grass root level could address their problems. If the State Cannot straightway part with 10 percent of its annual budget of Rs.1,60,000 crore this year, it could at least part with five percent.
Dr. JP wanted the ensuing Parliament's budget session to pass the Lokpal Bill. He regretted that certain sections had scuttled the move to include appointment of Lokayuktas in States as part of the Bill. He wanted the State Government to adopt a Bill providing for appointment of a strong and independent Lokayukta in the State on the lines of the Lokpal at the national level. He was sorry that the draft Bill he had submitted to all the parties in the Assembly and the Speaker has not seen the light of the day.
Dr. JP wanted Parliament to also adopt the Service Guarantee Bill which the Lok Satta Party had prepared at the request of the Parliamentary Committee.
Dr. JP disclosed that he would be meeting the Vice President of India and leaders of different political parties during his visit to New Delhi tomorrow on electoral reforms. This is a follow-up to the meeting he had had with President Pranab Mukherjee last month in New Delhi.
Mr. J. Iramamurthy, Lok Satta Vice-President and Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, General Secretary, shared the dais with Dr. JP.
The State Election Authority of the Lok Satta Party plans to complete the party's organizational elections before the end of March 2013, its Chairman Kaki Madhava Rao announced today. If it encounters any unexpected problems, the slippage in the schedule will not exceed two weeks.
Addressing a media meeting, Mr. Madhava Rao, former Chief Secretary and State Election Commissioner, said that the authority would conduct the party elections in a fair, impartial and credible manner.
Active Lok Satta Party members will take part in voting to elect office-bearers at the constituency, district and State levels.
The authority will appoint district returning and assistant returning officers and train them. It will meet once again next week and announce the election schedule.
Mr. M. Padmanabha Reddy, retired IFS officer and Mr. K. Satyanarayana Murty, former Law Secretary and Election Commission Secretary are the two other members of the authority which met today.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan told media earlier that he stood by the decision not to contest for the position of the State President. In reply to a question, he said he would contest from Kukatpally again in case he chose to run for the Assembly. Asked if he would contest for the Lok Sabha, Dr. JP said the question was premature.
Dr. JP said that the Lok Satta would like to demonstrate that the party is not the property of any individual but that of its members. The elections would provide an opportunity to competent people irrespective of their money power, pedigree and caste and religion to emerge as leaders and run the party.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is visiting Visakhapatnam for a day on Saturday, February 16.
At 1-30 p. m. he will visit the district central library site which has been allotted amidst a controversy for construction of a commercial complex on BOT basis.
He will take part in a meeting of party workers at 3-00 p.m. and in the annual day celebrations of Samata Degree College in MVP Colony at 5-30 p.m.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be interacting with students of Medha Women's Engineering College in Khammam at 4-00 p.m. on Saturday, February 9.
During the day's visit, Dr. JP will be taking part in functions at Rikka Bazar High School in the morning and at Harvest School in the evening, besides interacting with party workers and volunteers in the afternoon.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao and Secretary P. Bhaskara Rao pointed out that the Chief Minister sought to cover up the ruling party’s abuse of power ranging from enrolment of bogus members to offer of inducements for emerging victorious in cooperative elections.
Irrespective of the crop he raises or the region he belongs to, there has been little improvement in the farmer’s condition as evidenced by suicides by farmers and tenants.
The Lok Satta leaders underlined that the support price being offered by the State Government for fine varieties of paddy falls much below the cost of production estimated by the State Government itself in its note to the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices. The State Government has not been able to give input subsidy on time to the farmer buffeted by unprecedented power cuts, droughts and cyclones or ensure remunerative prices.
The leaders recalled that the farmer got up to Rs.8000 per quintal of cotton during the last season because of the efforts of the Lok Satta and independent farmers’ organizations in getting the ban on cotton exports lifted. Similarly, the farmer got a better price for fine variety of paddy following the lifting of restrictions on paddy exports in response to the ‘ryotu satyagraha’ launched by the Lok Satta.
Prices of cotton have now slumped almost 50 percent compared to last year. The farmer is left to his fate as there are no takers for cotton in the Warangal market yard and the produce he has brought to the market is soaked in rain.
Farmers would have sustained losses of up to Rs.10,000 crore this year because of the Government failure to ensure them fair prices for their produce.
The Lok Satta leaders wanted the Chief Minister to focus on improving productivity and ensuring remunerative prices for agricultural produce through free trade, and not confine himself to seeking their votes in elections. He should enable cooperatives to become self-reliant in tune with the spirit of the 97th Constitutional amendment.
"Instead of respecting cooperatives as vibrant farmers' organizations and empowering them, they are controlled by the Government and used for partisan politics. It is time all of us together changed the situation," added the Lok Satta leaders.