Riding on its recent success in Andhra Pradesh, the Lok Satta Party now plans to expand in other states focusing on urban voters in particular. Among the elections the party is looking ahead to is the contest for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike council, due in a few weeks. In a recent visit to Bengaluru Jayaprakash Narayan founder and President of the party introduced Lok Satta Party to the city.
"Lok Satta Party is here to bring a new political culture," said Narayan, widely known as JP, adding that the party aims to abolish poverty, provide education to one and all and to decentralise power from the centre to the states and further to the local government bodies. JP won Lok Satta’s first state assembly seat from Kukatpally in Hyderabad in the recently-held elections.
In an interactive session on 17th July organised by Lok Satta party supporters at Kalyana Mantapa, Koramangala, 8th Block, Narayan invited everybody to join Lok Satta. "We would like more and more young people to join us. If you are not someone who can dedicate all your time then you can become our executive member and help us in our activities," he added.
Further in the session Narayan, mentioned that his party feels that proper policies need to come in place for the empowerment of local government bodies. He said that empowering local bodies ensures transparency and accountability. "Right now there is need to see more accountability and incentives from the local bodies," he added.
The session was attended by around 400* people including volunteers and some eminent Bangaloreans. Meenakshi Bharath, a gynaecologist and a social activist who intends to run in the upcoming Bengaluru city council elections hosted the event. She is now leading the Karnataka chapter of Lok Satta in Bangalore.
"It is my pleasure to be part of this movement and the Lok Satta party," she said. She further added that her first step will be to try and make voter registration compulsory and easy.
Meenakshi who was seen as an independent candidate for the upcoming council elections will now be representing Lok Satta party. "A party gives you an opportunity to have an impact which is not possible if you are the sole representative of your opinions", she said.
She further added, "I agree with JP that an independent winning and voicing often remains a one-time phenomenon. In a party there is no escape from political activity. For healthy politics there is no substitute to a political party."
The other supporters included Ashwin Mahesh, member of chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development (ABIDe) Task Force*. Mahesh is a faculty at the Centre for Public Policy in Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore and an advisor to the BMTC. He has also helped Lok Satta in developing their website for the Karnataka chapter.
Also present were Surendra Srivastava, spokesman for the Lok Satta Movement, and founder of the Maharashtra chapter of Lok Satta and Vijay Anand, President Tamil Nadu Lok Satta Chapter and an active campaigner for Bangalore too.
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Apart from this other supporters included Krishna Bhupathy, Grand-Slam tennis player Mahesh Bhupathy’s father and many more. The three hour long interactive session saw active public participation. The session saw equal number of senior citizens and young professionals, most of whom were coming straight from their work. The question answer session also saw active participation from the public.
Narayan, a medical graduate, who entered the civil services in Andhra Pradesh government quit the job in 1996 and started a voluntary organisation Lok Satta to campaign for electoral reforms. Lok Satta shot into prominence by publishing list of candidates with criminal background and conducting ‘Election Watch’ across the country to mobilise public opinion against criminalisation of politics.
In 2006, he initiated the launch of Lok Satta Party in Andhra Pradesh and is currently serving as its President. ⊕
*Updated 30 July 2009.