Lok Satta

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:20

Nandan Nilekani is a good friend... but he probably has chosen a wrong party: Jayaprakash Narayan

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The Lok Satta Party, the less illustrious forerunner of the Aam Aadmi Party, will coordinate its activities with the latter for the Lok Sabha election due this year, founder Jayaprakash Narayan said in an interview.

Narayan, 57, who resigned from IAS 17 years ago to start a movement for good governance, warned AAP's Arvind Kerjiwal against populistic measures for short-term gains. Narayan, an MLA in Andhra Pradesh and party's sole elected representative, spoke to ET in Hyderabad. Excerpt

AAP, a recent entrant into politics, has been wildly successful but Lok Satta Party, launched in 2006, has not enjoyed that level of popularity...

We must not view this as AAP versus Lok Satta . We are all working for the same cause. Certain perspectives may vary in terms of policy. When Lok Satta (the movement) was founded in 1996, the middle class and the urban people generally either ignored or hated politics. People took pride in saying they never voted. Lok Satta worked very hard to change this. I think it is a great success. Our greatest accomplishment is not political. Our greatest accomplishment is being the engine of change in governance in India. And the number of changes that we have brought about are quite spectacular. Voter registration , disclosure of candidates' details, political funding reforms, anti-defection provisions , rural health mission and right to information law are some of them. I think it has been a rewarding journey.

When it comes to the electoral results, you do not seem to be doing well.

That is a fact. But we were the first ones to be elected. Nobody even dared to do that at that time. AAP learned from our experience and they chose Delhi. And Delhi for a variety of reasons is close to 21st century and the whole media owned it. And two movements with epicentre at Delhi propelled it. So everything worked wonderful (for AAP).

Is there anything you learned from the success of AAP?

Unquestionably. We always deliberately had a low profile. AAP has chosen a very aggressive , strident, very adversarial tone of battle every moment. Without saying something untrue, without being an archaic or antiinstitutional we still have to be aggressive. That is something that we have to learn.

Are you in touch with Kejriwal?

Of course, we are in regular touch. The whole movement against corruption was built in many ways in Bangalore with our people. We see it as a larger family. Now they have branched out as a political party. There are large numbers of Lok Satta volunteers who worked for AAP, funded it and worked overseas to promote it.

What kind of relationship you see with AAP?

We would like to see what best we can do to strengthen them. We supported them openly in Delhi. We hope they will do whatever they can to strengthen us. It is too early to comment on political ties. First let us support and strengthen each other. We want to avoid candidates against each other.

Do you see all of you joining hands to form a single political outfit in future?

Yes, we should if you are wise and if you really care for the country. Lok Satta has always said whoever does something good, we are with them. We must learn to work with each other across the country. We must learn to work with Congress, BJP and TDP and with any other party. If you treat them all as adversaries, in the short term it is nice, in the long term it will not work. The second is institutional. We cannot debunk all the institutions in the country. And the third is, on economic issues, the temptation to indulge in short-term populism . Populism always buys votes but electoral success is not everything.

How do you look at the populist schemes of Kejriwal?

At this time, I would not like to use any adjectives . All I can say is there is tax money and all the political parties must have a philosophy . Tax money cannot merely be spent on consumption subsidies. We require both subsidies and real emphasis on quality infrastructure to promote investments. We must be wise in utilising public money to end poverty, not merely to perpetuate poverty.

Will you put up a candidate against Nandan Nilekani if he contests as a Congress candidate from Bangalore?

Nandan is a good friend. I like him and I agree substantially with what he stands for. I acknowledge his contribution to India in terms of Aadhar cards, one of the important pillars of governance infrastructure required for the country. I particularly admire that he chose a tough decision for somebody who is hugely successful to risk failure in terms of elections. He probably has chosen a wrong party. I do not even know if we are going to put up a candidate there. Certainly, it would have been nicer and better if Nandan had a better platform.

Courtesy: Economic Times