‘We need a polity which can reach out to individuals that can deliver on people’s expectations.’
We need a polity which can reach out to individuals that can deliver on people’s expectations.
RLD General Secretary, the leader of Rashtriya Lok Dal and Mathura MP Jayant Chaudhary is all set to lead his party in U.P. Assembly Polls, 2012.
In a candid conservation with young volunteers associated with “Campaign UP 2012”, the young face of Rashtriya Lok Dal discusses about his vision of Uttar Pradesh, the role of youth in a democracy and his efforts in raising the issues related to the development of the rural economy. Excerpts:
Q: What message you want to give to the young people of Uttar Pradesh? Do you think youth is a “vibrant force of change” in democracy & politics of India?
I believe our democracy and society is at the cusp of transformative changes. I believe the educated youth is challenging the traditional structures & hierarchies and in the process emancipating those who were not in the mainstream.
The youth is redefining their roles and the position of women, entrepreneurs, rural people and the oppressed in society. The emerging role of the thinking individual above societal constructs of the village, caste or religious identity has forced political organizations to reach out in new ways. Election results are now not decided by a mega rally or the decision of the village pradhans or even by the family head. Every person has an aspiration, a vote and a voice. I view this as a positive development which is creating an enabling environment for a truly participative democracy that respects dialogue on substantive issues. If we want a polity that is disinfected from the clutches of castiesm, corruption and nepotism, we need parties to reach out to individuals on how they can deliver on people’s expectations. The real issues that should be discussed through political platforms should focus on governance, infrastructure, economy, agricultural policy among other issues.
Q: Your grandfather Chaudhary Charan Singh always stood up for the rights of farmers, peasants & labourers. How do you see his vision and any special memory you have spent with him?
Chaudhary Sahib was special. He rose from poverty and fought for the people. He was able to transcend boundaries created by the identity politics of caste, region and religion that is so dominant today. He had a strong vision for our country; one that I am sure if implemented would create truly inclusive growth and raise the living standards of our people living in impoverished conditions primarily in rural areas. He shared his value system not only with his political supporters but also his own family. Through my interactions as a young boy, I remember him as a strict man of discipline, but a man with passion and warm affection. The children in the family were full of respect and at times, perhaps even scared of him but always loved to be around him. I remember him telling me about Arya Samaj, the Gayatri mantra and the Mahatma Gandhi, his inspiration, the father of our nation.
Q: Earlier, you took a hard stand in implementing land acquisition laws in farmer’s interest. Are you satisfied with the current Land Acquisition Bill that has been introduced in House?
The basic inequity in the prevailing land laws is that the land owner has not given primacy in the land acquisition process. Through legislation and enforcement, Governments should work towards creating efficient land markets so that investors have a clear process to follow and land owners and local economies do not lose out. There should be adequate safeguards in the law that put a check on frequent direct intervention of the Government in the process. We have seen in Uttar Pradesh, how the Mayawati regime monetized the precious land resource. They wanted to acquire everything and sell everything! Governments should have a role in land use planning and protecting small land owners from malpractices, but if they misuse their powers and dictate to mostly rural and poor farmers when, how and at what price to sell, there will be chaos. The Government has tabled a bill, which the Standing Committee is considering. I have also introduced a Private Member’s Bill on Land Acquisition and am hopeful that the parliamentary processes will create legislation that reflects our views.
Q: There are serious allegations of corruption in NRHM Scheme in Uttar Pradesh; several ministers & MLAs have been sacked by Chief Minister Mayawati. How do you evaluate the performance of BSP government during these years?
When it comes to public services delivery, the track record of this Government has been the worst in our State’s history. So many examples can be given; the central schemes of NRHM, MGNREGA and all the State schemes are badly affected. Recently, a prominent publication came out with their investigation of MGNREGA in the State in some of the major Districts. A road was made under the scheme that was supposed to be a Sampark Marg from Taj Mahal in Agra to Lal Quila in Delhi. Take any PWD road, PMGSY road constructed in UP and you will find that the build quality and durability is simply not acceptable. You find corruption in every department and every office. Simply removing Ministers and MLAs will not absolve the Chief Minister of guilt. I allege that it was on her direction and desire that corruption on such scale was encouraged.
Q: The UP Assembly set a new record of sorts of holding the briefest winter session of a day which passed important resolution of division of state and supplementary demands. Do you think this kind of session undermines the values of democracy?
Running a Vidhan Sabha for a few days in a year weakens the institution. Through what forum can the opposition voice its views? They are also representing a section of the voting public. Where is the accountability of the Government to the people? I think it is a subversion of the will of the people. We will have to think of mechanisms to ensure that no Government in the future can misuse their office to this extent. Maybe a minimum number of days a year for the assembly should be prescribed and set in law.
Q: How do you see the future of regional parties and there importance in an era of coalition politics?
The diversity of our country can only be reflected in our multi-party system of democracy. The local flavour that is captured by the smaller parties is simply not reflected in the principal parties. Through this system of checks and balances, our polity is reflecting a true national identity that allows for the participation of all its constituents. If smaller regional parties are delivering on their promises to their constituents, they will continue to be relevant.
Q: What are the major issues your party is going to stand for in Uttar Pradesh Polls? Is there any agenda for youth, farmers and people of Uttar Pradesh?
The major issue in the 2012 elections will be the aspiration of the people for a clean Government. With its majority in the Vidhan Sabha, the present Government had a tremendous opportunity to work for change. The institutionalizing of corrupt practices during this regime will required the dedicated attention of the policy makers in the future. Transparency in Governments allocation of resources is something RLD will fight for.
We will go to the people with a roadmap for the economic progress of the State. For any society or State to achieve its potential, it needs to maximize productivity and encourage innovation. The State will have to embrace higher levels of investment in the social sector, research and development and key infrastructure. In this regard, private capital must also have a role. During the last five years no industry has been established in Uttar Pradesh. That is because of the attitude of the Government. I cannot go into details but will attempt to explain RLD’s vision to turn this around. The small first step in creating a positive enabling environment for private participation is a consistent pro reform policy. We need to create a ‘Vision 2050’ for our State based on inputs from all stakeholders. The rural areas and the key sector of agriculture need concerted action from the Government. We will step up in investment for creating and maintaining sustainable irrigation facilities, the provision of inputs like electricity and upgrading farm-market linkages and the mandi infrastructure.
Uttar Pradesh is an energy deficient State. Huge shortfall in electricity production as compared to peak demand and ineffective distribution in particular to rural areas has hurt the productive capacity of our people. The Mayawati led regime has failed to deliver on their promises on electricity. No village in Uttar Pradesh is getting more than 4-5 hours of supply. I believe a focus on renewable sources and decentralized grids is the need of the hour.
On law and order I believe the voting public will discriminate against mere rhetoric and effective policy measures. In the area of police reforms, where no government has come forward and given up its debilitating hold and powers in favour of an independent institution. I am committed to the idea that by creating a strong well trained police force that is free from political interference, we can create a safe, peaceful environment for the law-abiding citizens of our State.
Lastly, instead of transforming the political alliances into lasting stable social groupings, Mayawati infused more caste based discrimination and hatred into society. RLD has long been in favour of introducing categorization in our Mandal quotas to reflect the desire of the minorities and the most backward sections to derive benefits of affirmative actions.
Q: Between 2009 and 2012 ‘How do you see your journey all the way in to the Parliament’? What are the challenges you faced to voice the concerns of farmers and rural economy?
I started this journey with a lot of hope and energy. Along the way, I have gained in maturity. I realize that the way we think and act when we are outside the lumbering machinery of Government, is very different from when we are directly involved in giving it direction. While as a voter I asked why we can’t change faster, as a parliamentarian. I have realized that some of our systemic faults will only go away with time, focus and consistent action. I have a greater respect for the system, as it is the only one that can deliver in a country that has always respected plurality in vision and voices and survived contradictions.
Our policies even today are driven by a desire for social equity but are in some ways still not valuing the participation of our rural masses in the mainstream. That is a challenge for our parliament and the voices that represent this vibrant society.
Wish you all the Best for 2012 UP Elections. Thank You!
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