Thursday, April 23, 2009

The future belongs to us, Asserts Dr. JP

All the mainstream parties including the old and the new and some ideology-driven parties today "stand as culprits before the public for having tried to seduce voters with monetary and other inducements in their unabashed quest for power and lust for money."

Making this charge at a media conference here today, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan added the very fact that even the top leaders of these parties were no exception to buying votes testified to the absence of real leadership.

In stark contrast, Lok Satta candidates and campaigners upheld the true spirit of democracy in not only standing up to the hostile environment but also by not resorting to money and liquor distribution. "This itself is a miracle in the present vitiated political climate." He recalled that the Lok Satta candidates had taken an oath to uphold true norms of democracy and promote public interest. Millions of ordinary citizens - youth, women, middle classes, large sections of the poor and families ruined by the liquor menace - extended their support to the Lok Satta Party and silently voted for it.

"The peaceful revolution witnessed in the 2009 elections shows that Andhra Pradesh has become the epicenter for transformational politics. In five years, politics of India will change for good as people discover their strength and realize they are the masters of their destiny and not the parties and their candidates.

"The people perceive the Lok Satta as a party that practices what it preaches. Humbled by the enormous public support, I today pledge myself to stay the course and not let down people even in my dreams."

The Lok Satta, he said, had to reckon with tremendous resource constraints. In addition, people with ability and leadership qualities would not publicly stand up for what they believed in. Yet the people showered their affection and warmth on the Lok Satta. "The long night is over and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Millions of people are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Lok Satta, mirroring the powerful stirrings for change. The future belongs to the Lok Satta."

Dr. JP said the 2009 elections brought to light surrogate and concealed advertising with contestants and their parties "buying ad space and distorting news, manufacturing and purveying myth. This menace of epidemic proportions has elbowed out honest politics altogether. The media, which is supposed to be the sentinel of democracy, has itself become a part of the problem. The elections result will show that the space the media devoted to political parties and the public support they enjoyed was disproportional and as a result, the Lok Satta pursuing honest polictics was sought to be marginalized. But thanks to the overwhelming support of the ordinary people, the Lok Satta today stands tall and proud, with its dignity preserved, principles upheld, and credibility enhanced. At the end of the day, the people decide in a democracy, and they have decided that the Lok Satta stands for the future."

Dr. JP appealed to the Election Commission of India to immediately take into account the money spent by contestants through surrogate advertising and add it to their election expenditure. All the guilty, who exceeded the limits and did not disclose the expenditure should be disqualified from the present and future elections.

Dr. JP commended the Election Commission for acting with integrity and impartiality. It was true the commission and the police could not thwart the flow of money and liquor. But it was not their fault. The deep political crisis caused by political parties could not be overcome by non-political means.

"There are, however, serious complaints of defective electoral rolls. The Lok Satta's effort and the Election Commission decision to utilize post offices resulted in improvement in Hyderabad city. Now the commission must aggressively pursue this, and extend post offices as nodal agencies in the whole country so that transparency and access are improved."

Dr. JP appealed to the media to introspect whether it was not subverting democracy by promoting surrogate advertising. He asked the leadership of all parties to help transform political culture, failing which the system itself gets de-legitimized.

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