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Another JP in search of a movement

M.L. MELLY MAITREYI
Hyderabad



JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN

PARTY: Lok Satta

CONSTITUENCY: Kukatpally

STATE: Andhra Pradesh

MISSION STATEMENT: To usher in a new politics for a new generation

He popularised the slogans ‘Vote for change’ and ‘Social justice’ in Andhra Pradesh to expose what he calls the failure of political parties to change people’s lives even after decades of governance.

Ten years on, they have become catchwords for almost all parties. Is he happy with the impact he has had? “Words without soul will not carry far,” quips Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, the founder of Lok Satta (Peoples Power) movement, a civil society initiative, and now the president of the Lok Satta Party.

The Lok Satta is contesting a majority of the 294 Assembly and all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh. Educated, middle class candidates have enthusiastically come forward to fight the elections under the Lok Satta banner. Where there is more than one ‘capable aspirant,’ the party holds an internal poll to choose the candidate. Jayaprakash Narayan, 56, is himself contesting from the Kukatpally Assembly seat in Hyderabad.

JP, as he is popularly known, is a physician turned IAS officer, who quit the service and turned to political activism to realise the ideal of a genuine democracy where every individual is empowered with equal opportunities. When N. T. Rama Rao was unseated in 1995, JP was the Secretary to the Chief Minister.

On his decision to resign from the Indian Administrative Service, he says, “While my 16-year stint helped me do my bit for the people, I realised that there were too many hurdles to change governance.” In its bid to usher in clean governance, the Lok Satta has campaigned for electoral and legal reforms, right to information and establishment of a national rural health mission. He is aware of how difficult it is to change the system. “Electoral politics only brings about a change of players, not a change in the rules of the game. Without an effective alternative, there won’t be any change,” he says.

JP’s campaign style is very different from that of traditional parties.

Recently, he travelled second class in the Tirupathi-bound Krishna Express from Hyderabad to Nellore “to take politics to the people.” Dozens of people waited at various stations along the way to express their solidarity.

But just what is the LSP agenda? To usher in a new politics for a new generation through a silent revolution, resist criminalisation of politics and stop treating people as vote banks, he says. “Traditional parties want to perpetuate poverty and make people eternally dependent on them.”

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