Saturday, June 29, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be the chief guest at the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Indian Medical Association, Vijayawada, on June 30.
Dr. JP will be addressing the medical fraternity on ‘Quality healthcare to all under public-private partnership.’
Besides elected people’s representatives, Dr. N. Apparao, IMA national convener, Prof. Srinivasan Ranganathan, Dr. Prashanth Mohopatra and Dr. Meenakshi Sundaram will take part in the event being held at Seshasayee Kalyan Mantap.
Later, Dr. JP will take part in a meeting of Lok Satta Party city leaders at Rice Bazar in Krishnalanka.
The Lok Satta, CPI, RSP, Forward Block, Welfare Party of India and others will be staging a dharna at the Excise Commissioner's office in Nampalli on Monday, July 1, demanding a reversal of the present Excise policy.
The parties contend that the present policy under which private traders run liquor shops has led to the proliferation of illegal outlets and an increase in liquor consumption. The policy has ruined the health and living conditions of the poor.
The parties would like the Government to take over liquor trade, limit the number of shops and the days and hours of their functioning, and entrust local governments and self-help groups with the task of shutting down belt shops.
The attempt of political parties to deny people knowledge about their working is nothing but a conspiracy against democracy and voters, commented Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said that the Lok Satta Party will join others in challenging the Government's bid to exempt political parties from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and added that he has no doubt the judiciary will uphold the Central Information Commission order.
Dr. JP pointed out that political parties are not private estates but merely vehicles for political participation of citizens. A political party is no different from any other voluntary organization or civil society group. It is a free association of citizens for a collective purpose. The RTI Act covers all voluntary organizations that receive substantial assistance from the Government. The Administrative Reforms Commission, of which he was a member, defined what constitutes substantial assistance. The assistance is substantial if it is Rs.1 crore or more or constitutes 50 percent of the operational budget of the organization.
Dr. JP underlined that a political party is more than a voluntary organization in that it seeks people's votes, aspires for power, wants to influence how the Government spends public money and takes part in law making. Outside the legislature and electoral politics also, even small parties have enormous power over people's lives. They can paralyze life and disrupt economic activity by organizing bandhs and other agitations. It will be the height of absurdity if political parties claim immunity from public scrutiny under the RTI Act.
Dr. JP added that bringing political parties under the RTI Act does not mean that their internal deliberations or strategies must be made public. But the people have a right to know their norms for party membership, election of leaders, choice of candidates in elections and collection of funds. They have an obligation to disclose the basis for articulating certain policies and how they propose to raise funds for implementing them.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
The Opposition parties in the State today demanded that the Government take over retail liquor trade to end the menace of unauthorized liquor outlets and facilitate restriction of liquor consumption.
If the Government does not revoke the continuation of last year's policy of allotting liquor shops for a fixed license fee through draw of lots, the Opposition parties will observe dharna at Excise Department's district offices on July 1 and smash belt shops from July 2.
The Opposition parties took the decisions at an all-party meeting on 'Belt shops – liquor policy-united action' held under the auspices of the Lok Satta Party. Representatives of the Congress, CPI, CPI (M), RSP and Welfare Party took part in the meeting presided over State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao.
Initiating the discussion, Mr. Srinivasa Rao pointed out that belt shops continue to flourish a month and half after Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced in the presence of Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh that belt shops would be shut down in a month. He underlined that the emergence of belt shops is a direct fallout of the State Government's liquor policy of keeping liquor trade in private hands many of them belonging to 'sara' (traditional political) parties.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that the Government has not taken up any meaningful campaign to restrict liquor consumption although it publicizes vote catching schemes on a large scale.
CPI leader K. Ramakrishna said that the Government has consistently been ignoring practical suggestions made by Opposition parties. CPI (M) representative T. Sagar suggested that the Government spend 15 percent of Excise income on a campaign against liquor consumption.
Congress leader N. Tulasi Reddy said that although his party is committed to Prohibition in principle, it has not been to implement it as it had given rise to anti-social forces in the past. He said that the Government has so far shut down 12373 belt shops and conceded that many thousands more might exist. The Government is drawing up a plan to tackle belt shops more stringently this year.
Mr. Janakiram of RSP, Mr. Sadiq of Welfare Party, Mr. Narendra of Forward Bloc, Mrs. D. Lakshmi and Mrs. N. Saroja Devi of Lok Satta Party pledged their support for radical changes in the liquor policy.
Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma took part in the meeting.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
The Surajaya movement is organizing a photo exhibition on life in rural India at Ravindra Bharati in Hyderabad on June 24.
The movement had conducted a photo contest titled ‘Maa Palle Sithraalu’ for depicting life in villages in April-May. 2013. It was meant to encourage youth to capture the development or the lack of it in villages through their camera lens.
The themes for the contest are: Education, Employment, Health & Medical Facilities, Sanitation & Hygiene, Rural Youth, Rural Women, Government Services- Policies & Programs, Rural Infrastructure and Social Awareness. The photo competition
It may be recalled that the Foundation for Democratic Reforms and the Lok Satta launched the Surajya Movement in August 2012 advocating that youth be at the forefront for attaining ‘Suraaj’ through ethical politics and good governance. Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is the Convener of the Surajya Movement.
The movement among other things seeks creation of independent and powerful anti-corruption mechanisms and empowerment of local governments for rural development.
A jury comprising Mr. Chandramouli, former Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh Academy of Rural Development, Mr. Sekhar Kammula, movie director, and Mr. K. Srinivasa Reddy, President, Indian Journalist Union, chose the winners in the contest.
Mr. D. Manikya Varaprasada Rao, Minister for Rural Development, will be the chief guest at the function where cash prizes will be given away to winners in the contest. Later the minister will inaugurate the photo exhibition.
Surajya Steering Committee convener Dr.JP and members will take part in the event.
The photo exhibition will be open to public till 7 p.m. from noon, told the Surajya Steering Committee sources in a media statement today.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Lok Satta Party’s national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be taking part in a public meeting being organized by Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan in Bengaluru on Thursday, June 20.
The Andolan is conducting the meeting as part of its efforts to sensitize public on the need for alternative political culture.
Mr. K. N. Govindacharya, President, Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan, Mr. Arif Md. Khan, former Union Minister and Mr. Jagadish Shettigar are taking part in the meeting to be held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Race Course Road at 5 p.m.
The State Government’s decision to close down 3193 Government primary schools which have less than 10 students on their rolls and about 4000 private schools which have not registered themselves because of the norms mandated in the Right to Education Act will deprive education to nearly two lakh children, said State Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma here today. Children belonging to poorer sections will go without education because of the absence of a school in the neighborhood or their inability to afford costly schools.
In a media statement, Mr. Varma said the Government decision is thoughtless in that it comes at a time education is in a parlous state.
Quoting Government data, Mr. Varma said there are 3193 Government primary schools with less than 10 students and 5679 schools with less than 20 students, As many as 5774 schools have no teachers at all, 15170 schools have just one teacher and 23146 schools, two teachers. Of them, the Government has decided to shut down schools with less than 10 students this year. Another 5000 schools will face a similar fate next year.
Closure of about 4000 budget schools which charge less than Rs.500 a month as fee, in the name of implementing the Right to Education Act, will badly hit education in the State. What is paradoxical is that a Government which runs schools by employing education volunteers seeks to shut down budget schools by stipulating norms like teachers’ qualifications and salaries and built up area. As a result, there will only be corporate and Government schools hereafter.
Mr. Varma wanted the Government not to shut down any Government or private school for this year and explore alternatives so that the poor do not go without schooling.
Mr. Varma suggested that in areas where the Government cannot run schools, it can enable poor students through direct cash transfer to study in private budget schools. It can stipulate certain standards for such schools, instead of driving poor students to corporate schools, said Mr. Varma.
Monday, June 17, 2013
The Lok Satta Party today took strong exception to Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and State Panchayatiraj Minister K. Jana Reddy inciting women to smash illegal liquor outlets, locally known as belt shops, with the assurance that no cases would be instituted against them for indulging in vandalism.
Abdicating its responsibility of shutting down illegal outlets reflects not merely Government's incompetence but also its irresponsibility, commented Lok Satta Party General Secretary P. Ravi Maruth and Secretary Eeda Chennayya in a media statement.
The leaders pointed out that the emergence and proliferation of belt shops under successive governments is a direct fall-out of the State Government's flawed liquor policy. Viewing liquor as a perennial source of ever increasing revenue, the Governments have winked at belt shops over the years unmindful of the havoc they are causing to the health and finances of millions of people.
The Lok Satta has repeatedly told the Government that illegal liquor outlets sprout and flourish as long as the Government allocates liquor shops to private traders. Earlier, the Government gave liquor shop licenses to highest bidders. Subsequently, it carried out a steep hike in license fee and allocated shops to traders by lots.
The Lok Satta leaders said if the Government is sincere and serious, belt shops can be eliminated with ease. It can straightway take over retail liquor sales as in States like Tamil Nadu.
If it chooses to persist with private trade, it can entrust panchayats with the responsibility of ensuring that there are no belt shops in their jurisdiction and stipulate that any failure on their part will result in dissolution of the elected body. It can even enlist the services of self-help groups in its campaign against belt shops.
Far from eliminating belt shops, the Government is bent upon promoting liquor consumption going by press reports of its intention to allow permit rooms attached to liquor shops in villages.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has set a record of sorts by unveiling one scheme after another for the benefit of the so-called poor and downtrodden sections. However, by encouraging liquor consumption on a large scale he is doing immense harm to the very sections who he would like to help, said Mr. Varma.
The Lok Satta leaders had a dig at TDP President and leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu also for asserting that his second signature on assuming as Chief Minister would be on a GO banning belt shops. Mr. Naidu seems to forget that no GO is required for shutting down what are apparently illegal outlets.
The Lok Satta Party has asked the Government to go ahead with elections to panchayats by taking the State as a unit for reservations as announced earlier.
Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma in a media statement wanted the Government not to have second thoughts on the reservations issue in the wake of complaints that elections based on State-wide reservations will result in injustice to OCs in certain districts.
According to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics’ provisional estimates for 2011, BCs constitute 39.18 percent of the State’s population. The State Government has reserved 34 percent of seats to BCs and allocated them among districts in proportion to their population. As a result, BCs get more seats in districts where their population is high and less in districts where their population is low. If BCs are getting less than 34 percent of seats in 10 districts and more than 34 percent in 12 districts, it is because of the variation in their population.
Mr. Varma pointed out that if reservations of 34 percent were to be made for BCs taking the district as a unit, their quota will go down in 12 districts in which they account for more than 34 percent of population, resulting in the number of general seats going up. Similarly, their reservations will go up in districts where their population is less than 34 percent, resulting in a fall in the number of general seats.
Mr. Varma underlined that State-wide reservations for BCs have not affected the total number of general seats.
The controversy will merely provide a handle to the Government to once again postpone the overdue panchayat elections.
Mr. Varma wanted the Government to ensure that panchayat elections are held without further delay by giving the reservations chart to the Election Commission.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today wholeheartedly welcomed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s announcement of his intention to introduce a Public Services Delivery Bill in the Legislature.
In a media statement, Dr. JP, who represents Kukatpally in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, said he had informed the Business Advisory Committee only a few days ago of his plan to introduce the Bill and sought the support of all parties to it.
It may be recalled that Dr. JP had observed a three-day Surajya fast in December 2012 seeking among other things enactment of a law to guarantee basic services to citizens as a matter of their right.
Dr. JP pointed out that citizens now have to put up with huge delays, harassment and corruption in getting basic public services from a host of Government departments. The citizens’ basic entitlements to name a few include birth, death, income, caste, disability and marriage certificates, water, electricity and sewerage connections, building plan permissions, voter cards, ration cards and copies of land records. He pointed out that revenue officials charged Rs.2000 to Rs.3000 per acre as speed money for issuing them a record of rights.
The law should guarantee delivery of basic services within a stipulated time frame and incorporate provisions for imposing a penalty on errant officials and compensating applicants for delays.
Dr. JP suggested that the Andhra Pradesh law can be modeled after the Public Services Bill before Parliament now. At the request of the Parliament’s Standing Committee, the Lok Satta had drafted the Bill integrating the two Bills dealing with delivery of services in physical form and electronic services.
Dr. JP recalled that a number of States had already enacted laws guaranteeing citizens’ right to basic services. He is glad that the Andhra Pradesh Government has at long last started moving in the right direction.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Central Information Commission's decision to bring political parties under the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI) has not gone down well with most parties, who are arguing that they are not public entities. Veenu Sandhu speaks with Jayaprakash Narayan, founder of Lok Satta party and a member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, on the ramifications of the decision.
Will bringing political parties under RTI help, given that they are already expected to reveal details about their finances to the Income Tax department and the Election Commission?
Most of the recognised political parties are concealing details about their finances. Many of them don't even show as much as we - a fledgeling political party - do. (While donations above Rs 20,000 require PAN numbers and income tax details, for a lesser amount, neither the political party nor the donor has to certify anything. As a result, most political parties show that a large chunk of their income comes through donations up to Rs 20,000). The RTI Act is not a panacea for all these problems, but it will eventually make political parties more accountable. So I completely welcome it.
Besides the financials, what else will political parties be accountable for?
There will be a whole lot of things such as membership, the criterion for choosing candidates or restricting membership and even specifics of why a member has been punished or expelled from the party. People will get a better insight into cases like that of Somnath Chatterjee, a man of such stature, who was expelled from The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or that of P A Sangma and his daughter, Agatha (she had to resign as Union minister on the Nationalist Congress Party's directions, after she campaigned for her father in the presidential elections).
The issue of how a person has been appointed as leader in a party will also fall in its purview. Even a fledgeling democracy like Kenya has internal party elections. But our political parties are like private estates, fiefdoms or modern zamindaris.
Politicians fear that that all party discussions, strategy and reports, including those about organisational matters, will have to be made public as a result of RTI.
That is not the case. There is a difference between being transparent and being naked. I, along with Aruna Roy, was part of the panel that drafted the RTI Act. She had suggested that all deliberations of the cabinet meeting should be brought under it, but I had resisted that. Bring the right to know the decisions taken at the meeting under the Act, but not who said what to whom during the meeting. For example, for the Food Security Act, it is reasonable to ask that if you are committing a certain amount of money, where will it come from. But parties will not be expected to reveal their internal strategies. The Act will not curtail the freedom of the parties.
An argument is that even the media gets advertisement, and therefore funds, from the government. So should the media be brought under the RTI Act as well?
That cannot be considered public funding. The government placing an advertisement in a newspaper is not assistance. There is no tax exemption on the money that comes through government advertisements. The media is offering a service and the government is paying for it. That apart, I would like to see the media becoming more transparent about its policy, not strategy. There are times when a news story is carried about a company in which the media house has a stake and I have seen a disclosure being made alongside, which is a practice that needs to be encouraged.
Is the argument that political parties are not public entities justified?
A political party is a unique organisation that impacts the public exchequer. It seeks votes from the public and gets substantial indirect assistance from the government. For example, we were a movement once, but now we are a political party. A political party seeks the right to make policies and laws which impact the public. When we were drafting this Act, Roy and I desisted from bringing political parties under it because we knew it would face resistance in Parliament and wouldn't be allowed to be passed in that format. But bringing political parties under RTI is definitely necessary. Parties that are opposed to communicating openly and which say that people have no right to know what we are doing don't have the right to seek any privileges in a democracy.
Activists should, however, realise that this one Act is not a fantastic revolution that will change everything. Similarly, political parties should not be afraid of this Act. At the moment, there is exaggerated fear and exaggerated expectation.
Courtesy: Business Standard
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today reiterated the maxim that politics is too serious a business to be left alone to politicians and called upon people with integrity, leadership qualities, resources and concern for society to plunge into politics.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion of Mrs. Kanthimathi Kannan, founder-President, The Right to Walk Foundation, joining the Lok Satta Party, Dr. JP said politics is about changing the lives of people not about the electoral fortunes of politicians. Mrs. Kanthimathi, Dr. JP said, is a true politician in that sense since she has devoted her time and energy to improve the lot of pedestrians, unfazed by discouragement from many quarters.
Dr. JP said that the Lok Satta Party has a comprehensive philosophical outlook unlike other political parties. It believes in reconciliation of conflicting interests, adopts a rational approach and offers solutions to problems and practices what it preaches in word and deed. What the LSP says today, the entire country will follow tomorrow, Dr. JP added.
Dr. JP said that honesty in politics is a minimum requirement but not the maximum qualification. One should, besides being honest, have the intellectual and moral capacity and courage to bring about transformation in society.
There is no need for cynicism since we have the resources and technology to realize our dream of building a better society.
The society cannot be transformed if people confine themselves to deriding politics and politicians. It is true that sometimes tussle for power and factionalism and other evils characterize politics. But that should not deter the finest men and women from playing a creative role in politics. Lincoln and Gandhi are great examples of leaders who while being part of contemporary politics, had risen above pettiness, and rebuilt their respective nations. That is what India needs today, Dr.JP said.
Mrs. Kanthimathi said that she would like to improve the living conditions of the poorest of the poor and brings smiles to their faces.
Lok Satta Party State President Katari Srinivasa Rao described Mrs. Kanthimathi as a warrior in the cause of pedestrians.
Mr. Bandaru Ramamohan Rao, Vice President, took part in the meeting.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Denial of input subsidy to victims of last year's drought and Neelam cyclone on the ground they do not have bank accounts merely mirrors Government's incompetence, said the Lok Satta Party.
About 11 lakh of the 30.41 lakh farmers hit by the natural calamities will have to forgo the input subsidy of Rs.10000 per hectare if the Government sticks to its irresponsible stance, said Mr. P. Bhaskara Rao, Convener of the Lok Satta Party's farmers' wing and Mr. Eeda Chennayya, State party Secretary.
The leaders pointed out that the input subsidy can be paid to farmers through crop loan accounts, or crossed cheques or through their cooperative bank accounts. The Government should not link subsidy with the Aadhar since issuance of Aadhar cards is still under way.
The Lok Satta leaders faulted the Government also for its failure to ensure supply of seeds to farmers although the crop season has begun. Farmers waiting in serpentine queues for hours on end for soybean seeds in Medak district exemplifies the problem.
How will a Government which cannot ensure supply of seeds, fertilizers and input subsidy on time help the farmer get a remunerative price for his produce in a free market, they asked.
Lok Satta constituted an empowered committee to review the membership enrollment process and improve the system and correct the errors. The committee comprises of the following members:
1. Sri M Padmanabha Reddy, IFS (Retd), Member Lok Satta’s Independent Election Authority
2. Sri M Rambabu, IAS (Retd)
3. Sri P Kodandarama Rao, Chairman, Lok Satta’s Disciplinary Committee
Their terms of reference are as follows:
1. To identify the errors in member enrollment and voter registration, and to suggest remedial measure
2. To suggest improvements in member enrollment and voter rolls preparation, with adequate safeguards to eliminate / minimize errors.
3. To refer to the party’s disciplinary committee cases, if any, in which any member has acted in a deliberate and malafide manner in member enrollment; these will be based on specific complaints and evidence, and there will be no fishing expedition.
Regarding errors or mistakes, L.S. party members may submit their representation to the committee with evidence on or before 20th Jun 2013 to the below mentioned address.
H.No.6-1-69, Flat No.204,
Hyderabad - 500 004
Ph : 040-23230334
Email id: email@example.com
Monday, June 10, 2013
Saturday, June 8, 2013
“Pressurize the Government to install a surveillance network all over Hyderabad and ensure the safety and security of its citizens.”
That is the message Lok Satta Party units in Greater Hyderabad have conveyed to their respective legislators on the eve of the Legislature’s budget session.
Giving this information in a media statement, Lok Satta Party’s Greater Hyderabad unit President Dosapati Ramu welcomed the State Cabinet’s decision to enact a law mandating installation of CCTVs by all business and industrial establishments in Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. The Government should, however, set an example to others by being the first to install CCTV cameras at all public places.
In their representation, the Lok Satta units drew the legislators’ attention to the failure of the police to even identify, leave alone arrest, the culprits responsible for the Dilsukhnagar blasts on February 21, 2013 which left 17 people dead and one hundred others injured. Attributing the police failure partly to the absence of an effective surveillance network, the representation pointed out there are just 370 CCTV cameras in areas under the jurisdiction of the Hyderabad Police Commissioner and 51 in areas under the jurisdiction of the Cyberabad Police Commissioner. Of them, 34 cameras in Hyderabad and all the 51 in Cyberabad are dysfunctional.
The State Government has off and on announced its intention to install CCTV cameras all over the city. In the latest instance, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy told a Chief Ministers' conference on internal security in New Delhi on June 5 that the State Government will install 5000 CCTVs as part of strengthening security in Hyderabad.
What is unfortunate is that the State Government has not taken any follow-up action like allocation of funds and calling for tenders for installation of the system.
The representation said: “Greater Hyderabad with a population of nearly one crore and spread over hundreds of square kilometers is a growing metropolis. It has become the home for world renowned software and pharmaceutical giants, and world-class research and development laboratories. Thanks to its infrastructure, Hyderabad has become a draw for prospective industrialists and global conferences.” No wonder, it has become a target for terrorists of all hues.
Installation of a surveillance network will help police identify and arrest culprits immediately after an incident, the Lok Satta said and pointed out that US police arrested Boston bombing culprits within 48 hours, thanks to CCTV footage.
The Lok Satta told the legislators to ensure that the State Government allocates adequate funds for installation of the promised 5000 CCTVs in the current year’s budget itself and calls for tenders for the network installation.
Friday, June 7, 2013
State Lok Satta Party leaders have begun a tour of districts in a bid to gear up the party at the gross root level for local body elections.
State party President Katari Srinivasa Rao held discussions with party leaders in Nalgonda district today. He will be visiting Medak on June 8 and Nizamabad on June 9.
Messrs P. Bhaskara Rao, Bandaru Ramamohan Rao and Eeda Chennaya are accompanying the State President.
During their visit, the leaders are focusing on identifying constituencies from which the party will field candidates and on taking the party's agenda to voters.
The State leaders visited Rangaa Reddy, Mahabubnagar, Anantapur and Coastal Andhra districts in April.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao has appointed the following as district in-charges for the ensuing local body elections:
Srikakulam – Prof. D. Vishnu Murthy
Vizianagaram – Bhisetty Babji
Visakhapatnam & Khammam – P. Ravi Maruth
East Godavari – Sagi Janakirama Raju
West Godavari – Y. D. Rama Rao
Krishna – Dr. K. Pattabhi Ramaaiah
Kurnool & Guntur – J. Irama Murthy
Prakasam –. Allu Siva Ramesh Reddy
Nellore & Chittoor – Narra Sridhar
Anantapuram – K. Omkar
Kadapa – T. Jagannatha Reddy
Ranga Reddy – D. Lakshmi
Nalgonda – P. Bhaskara Rao
Mahabubnagar – Nandipet Ravinder
Warangal, Karimnagar & Medak – Bandaru Ramamohan Rao
Nizamabad – Eeda Chennaiah
Adilabad – M. Satyanarayana.
In a media statement, Mr. Srinivasa Rao charged both the Government and the Opposition with misleading people by portraying local elections as State or national elections in violation of the federal spirit. It amounts to questioning people’s right to self-governance. Local elections should be fought on local issues that affect people’s day-to-day lives since they have little to do with State or national politics.
The Lok Satta will fight the local elections with the following agenda:
Devolution of powers and resources on local bodies, provision of safe drinking water and total sanitation for all, management of schools by parents’ committees to ensure quality education, strengthening of health centers, restriction of liquor consumption by women self-help groups, per capita grant of Rs.1500 to enable local bodies to address people’s pressing needs and service guarantee to people.
ST wing President
Mr. Srinivasa Rao also announced the appointment of Dr. Mogili Ravi Babu as President of the party’s ST wing. The 36-year-old dermatologist-cum-cosmetic surgeon, with a track record of service to tribals and other weaker sections, had quit Government service and joined the Lok Satta Party.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed in principle the verdict of the Central Information Commission (CIC) bringing political parties under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The verdict may not be palatable to those who have converted political parties, which should strive for social good, into private estates. It will, however, make parties transparent and accountable and share details of their income and expenditure with people.
Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma said in a media statement that the people have a right to know about the functioning of parties which seek their votes.
Mr. Varma recalled that the Lok Satta has been in the forefront in seeking a law to regulate the functioning of political parties. Political parties should be transparent in raising and spending funds, choose office-bearers through democratic elections, and allocate party tickets by sticking to certain standards. The Lok Satta Party is the first in the country to place its audited income and expenditure statements on its website, he said
Mr. Varma said that the CIC recommendation is a small but significant step in electoral reforms. But to eradicate the influence of black money and the culture of vote buying, the present first-past-the-post system should be replaced by a proportional system of representation with adequate safeguards in Indian conditions.
Mr. Varma wanted political parties not to circumvent the CIC verdict under some pretext or the other but respond favorably by sharing information as stipulated by it.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today lashed out at the Congress-led UPA Government at the Center for attempting to rush through the Food Security Bill with an eye on general elections.
The Congress, which has ruled the country for more than five decades after Independence, has suddenly woken up to the hunger stalking the countryside, said Dr. JP.
Dr. JP pointed out that States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh have already been making available food grains to a majority of their populations at the same or less rates than envisaged in the Food Security Bill. Yet, the malnutrition levels in the four States are no less than in other States. MP has 60% children with low birth weight, Chattisgarh 47%, AP 33% and Tamil Nadu 30%. In contrast, Punjab has only 25% and Kerala 23% children with low birth weight, although they do not have food security schemes.
The very fact that one has to pay a bribe of Rs. 3 lakh in cities in Andhra Pradesh to get a fair price shop allotted underlines that the public distribution system is merely lining the pockets of a few but not eradicating poverty.
Dr. JP was addressing media on the occasion of Dr. Mogili Ravi Babu, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon belonging to the ST community and his followers, joining the Lok Satta Party.
Dr. JP said that poverty can be eradicated only if everyone has equal opportunities for growth through quality education, healthcare, skill enhancement and employment. It cannot be eliminated through slogans and election-eve sops.
Dr. JP said that the well-conceived National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has failed to produce the anticipated results. Andhra Pradesh, which has witnessed nearly Rs.23000 crore being spent under the scheme since its inception, would not have been facing an acute water crisis had the scheme been utilized to conserve every drop of rainwater.
Advocating decentralization of power and devolution of resources on local bodies, Dr. JP pointed out that leaders like Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad viewed the ensuring local elections in Andhra Pradesh as a means to test the Congress strength and not to better people's lives. Had there been genuine decentralization, naxalism would not have flourished and led to instances like the dastardly attack in Chattisgarh.
Referring to the raging controversy over betting in IPL cricket, Dr. JP asked politicians have no business to dabble in cricket. Like Nero fiddling when Rome was burning, the politicians were indulging in cricket politics instead of focusing on resolving people's burning problems.
Replying to a question, Dr. JP said that people in elected offices against whom a charge sheet is filed in a court of law should resign forthwith. The Lok Satta has been advocating that they should be debarred even from contesting elections.
On the sacking of Dr. D. L. Ravindra Reddy from the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet, Dr. JP said that in a parliamentary democracy the Cabinet has collective responsibility. Ministers can have differences with the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister but they should discuss them within the Cabinet but not air them in public.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, and the Chief Minister in AP do not enjoy the freedom to function freely. Had they had the freedom, many of the corruption scams would not have been haunting them now at the national level.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
The Lok Satta Party will launch a signature campaign in the Twin Cities to demand that the Government take all measures including installation of a surveillance network, introduction of community policing and modernization of the police machinery to shield Hyderabad from terrorist attacks.
The Working Committee of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) unit of the party, which met here today with Mr. Dosapati Ramu, President in the chair, decided to carry on a public awareness campaign for a month beginning with a candle light rally on Saturday night to mark completion of 100 days of the Dilsukhnagar blasts.
Addressing the Working Committee, State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao said that the Government has failed to identify and arrest culprits responsible for the blasts so far. It has not even lived up to its promise of installing CCTVs at all public places. In response to a Lok Satta representation the other day, the Chief Minister maintained that the subject was still under study.
The GHMC unit also decided to study whether closure of any of the 92 Government schools in the city would inconvenience students and take up the matter with the Government.
It decided to launch a membership enrollment campaign until August and hold division-level elections subsequently.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today thrashed the contention of Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor that Mahatma Gandhi's concept of a village-centric development model is an "unrealistic" goal in the current age of globalization and communication.
In a media statement, Dr. JP pointed out that Mr. Shashi Tharoor was blurring the distinction between economic self-reliance and self-governance. In the contemporary globalized world, no nation, leave alone a village. can be self-reliant. Despite their technological prowess, even highly developed countries like the U. S., Germany and China are dependent on countries around the world for raw materials, products and services. Such interdependence enables every nation to reap the benefits of comparative advantage.
Economic interdependence is, however, different from self-governance, Dr. JP said, and added that local governments not only in countries like the U. S. and Germany but even in China are all powerful. Even in India, villages and municipalities when armed with powers, resources and personnel have recorded spectacular development. Visionary leadership in Alandur, a small town in Tamil Nadu, pioneered a local sewerage system and transformed people’s lives. Similarly, Dr. Verghese Kurien unleashed a white revolution in the country through cooperative dairies which blended the concepts of both economic interdependence and self-governance.
Dr. JP said that decentralization of powers and devolution of resources on local communities and making them accountable will contribute to the country’s progress, prosperity and peace.
It will lead to the emergence of a crop of new leaders and not necessarily the sons and daughters of present politicians.
Violence and naxalism will disappear. Naxalites, after all are disgruntled young Indians and not some alien creatures. If given resources and opportunities, they will become part of a solution and not a problem. From naxalism to secessionism – all can be curbed when people have greater measure of control over their lives through local governments. When they have control over resources, local communities can prioritize works depending local needs. In contrast, when power is centralized, those at the helm throw priorities to winds and focus on schemes that fetch them votes. Decentralization will thus put an end to fiscal profligacy too, Dr. JP said.
Local governments, if they are properly empowered, establish clear links between the citizens’ vote and public good, and ensure fusion of authority with accountability. “We need recognition of economic inter-dependence, as well as empowered and accountable local governments, if we are to prosper as a nation and find our due place in global community” Dr JP said.