Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stand by your commitment, Lok Satta tells Babu

“TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu is apparently running away from a debate he has agreed to with Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan.”

That was how the Lok Satta Party commented on the preconditions set by TDP leaders Dhulipala Narendra Kumar and Ravula Chandrasekhara Reddy for a debate with the Lok Satta Party.

Talking to the media, party spokespersons Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao, Mr. V. Laxman Balaji, Mrs. K. Geetamurthy recalled that Dr. JP had agreed to reply to all the questions raised by Mr. Chandrababu Naidu and other TDP leaders concerning the Lok Satta. Dr. JP had said in his letter, “Your partymen and you seem to question the rationale for Lok Satta Party’s emergence. You have also questioned our fund raising and utilization of resources in the recent electoral campaign. You have argued that Lok Satta Party is acting in concert with ruling party in the State. You have raised questions of integrity and public morality. I am ready to debate with you all these issues pertaining to your party and Lok Satta.”

Dr. JP had congratulated Mr. Chandrababu Naidu on his readiness for a debate and hoped the debate would set a healthy trend in democratic discourse.

“Far from accepting Dr. JP’s offer, the TDP is now trying to wriggle out of its commitment by finding excuses,” commented the party spokespersons.

“It is true that the Lok Satta polled only 1.8 percent of the popular vote and has a lone representative in the Assembly compared to TDP’s formidable ‘vote bank’ and number of MLAs. If the Lok Satta is such a weakling, why should the TDP be rattled and blame the Lok Satta for its debacle in the 2009 elections?”

The spokespersons clarified that Dr. JP indicated certain modalities for a debate and suggested they could be finalized by mutual consent. Mr. Chandrababu Naidu was in no way constrained from suggesting modalities acceptable to him.

Referring to the questions raised by the TDP leaders, the Lok Satta spokespersons replied that Dr. JP had welcomed the public debate precisely to answer all such questions and more if any. They had merely repeated the questions raised earlier.

“Our life is an open book. We have nothing to conceal or fear. Where is the need for a propaganda campaign through proxies when the Presidents of the TDP and the Lok Satta can have a public discourse without indulging in personal attacks?”

In fact, the spokespersons pointed out, Dr. JP, with the cooperation of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, was eager to set a new trend in civilized and honest public discourse.

The spokespersons hoped that without standing on false prestige Mr. Chandrababu Naidu would take part in the debate. “We can understand the frustration of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu at the poll results. But that is no excuse for shying away from a healthy and exemplary debate.”

Lok Satta is dedicated to transforming the political culture of India, and Andhra Pradesh is merely its first base of activity. Vote buying, distribution of liquor, dynastic rule, family fiefdoms, obstructionist methods, politics as commerce, corruption and abuse of office, criminalization, centralization, treating people as mendicants, perpetuation of poverty and caste, regional and communal divisions – all these have become the staple of traditional parties in India. Sadly, even parties which had once a credible record descended to a low level. Lok Satta has always believed that what we need is not merely a change of players, but a change in the rules of the game. In consonance with that objective, Lok Satta Party was founded with clear and well-defined objectives, democratic functioning, clean politics, inclusive and nation-building approach, and policies aimed at empowering citizens, fulfilling the potential of every child irrespective of the accident of birth and elimination of all avoidable suffering. The party’s Constitution, published on October 2, 2006 clearly and succinctly outlined our approach to public work. Power to us is a means, not an end in itself. Therefore the means adopted to acquire power have to be fair, legitimate and transparent. That is why vote-buying, distribution of liquor obstructionist methods divisive politics and cheap populism are anathemas to Lok Satta.

Lok Satta has never leveled personal allegations against any party or leader. We have always endeavoured to raise the level of debate and focus on public issues. We believe that the nation is above the party, and the party is above individuals. If a party proposes a sound policy, we always welcome and support it; if a policy is not desirable in our judgment, we oppose it with reasons, and always provide an alternative solution. This is the new politics India needs and our children deserve.

The appeal to all parties to come together to work for the common good, instead of being lost in partisan rancour bitterness and internecine quarrels.

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