Kaun Banega AP ka Kejriwal?
Kaun Banega AP Ka Kejriwal?, Pawan Kalyan, JD Laxminarayana, Jayaprakash Narayan. Among the millions of young Indians who witnessed the swearing-in...
Among the millions of young Indians who witnessed the swearing-in ceremony of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and six of his associates at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on Saturday and heard his speech, several hundreds must have vowed to strive to become or have Kejriwals in their region. The common people also must have started looking around wondering who is likely to fit the bill. It may be easy in other States to review and conclude who is best suited to try to be a Kejriwal. But it is extremely difficult in a fractured State like Andhra Pradesh where politics of deception has been ruling the roost for more than four years, if not more. The established politicians of conventional parties have rendered themselves unworthy in the prevailing circumstances to the tragic extent that they have ceased to represent people in its realistic sense. Hence the need to find a Kejriwal for AP and he should not be from the established political parties.
When Barkha Dutt of NDTV interviewed Kejriwal after his party had won 28 seats, she sought his party’s opinion on the possibility of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister. The reply was candid: “Madam, you may need to debate on issues like this to run your channel. But the common man is not bothered about Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi. They are more concerned about amenities like getting daily supply of water, power, roti and other aspects of life.” Barkha was nonplussed.
Have we heard any politician in Andhra Pradesh talking about the issues that concern the ordinary folks in the last four or five years?
Coming back to the original question of identifying the possible or potential contenders to do a Kejriwal in AP, it is difficult not to consider the name of J P Jayaprakash Narayan. After all, Dr Narayan, a former bureaucrat himself, did try to infuse young blood by providing a platform for the emergence of alternative politics both as an active politician and also as an activist heading a voluntary organization prior to that.
During a discussion organised by HMTV when the results of the five Assembly elections were being declared, a viewer posed a very pertinent question: “Why could not JP do what Kejriwal did?” With all due respect to the man, the answer was that the people of AP did not consider JP as a politician who could deliver. They perhaps thought of him as an idealist, a great orator or an intellectual of high order. JP was not very consistent in his politics, either.
He has lots of luggage to carry in the sense that he would not resort to dharnas, sit-ins or gheraos. He believes in orderly politics as practised in the West. You cannot expect him to disconnect the power meters like Kejriwal did while defying law. The people of AP might have imagined that JP was a good preacher and they should hear him and leave it at that.
Many persons asked if there was anybody in the State who could replicate what Kejriwal did in Delhi. It was a good question that had to be addressed and answered on merit.
Let us examine some names despite not soliciting their prior permission for consideration here. The names we are taking up are not in order of merit or influence. It is more random in nature.
Some potential Kejriwals may have been left out of this narrative for want of information.
In politics, like in life, what is crucial is how an individual is understood, including at face value. There may be some leaders who have been working without seeking publicity and their names do not appear here.
There may be somebody who could have been named here but may not like to be mentioned in this context. Both have to excuse me for the possible acts of commissions and omissions.
In the present context of AP, there is no point in zeroing on any individual, howsoever uprightly brilliant he or she may be, who could inspire a populace of nine crore like Kejriwal, who wooed and won the hearts of less than a quarter of Andhra Pradesh’s population.
The people of the State are emotionally and mentally divided for all practical purposes, thanks to the dishonest politicians in the State and at the Centre.
He represents the aspirations of a large section of the people and has the right credentials to be deemed as one who could become a politician with a difference. He is idealistic, bold, simple and unassuming. A person from Civil Services who conducted himself with dignity without compromising on human values and impeccable integrity. Yes, he is ideally suited for becoming the Kejriwal of Andhra Pradesh. If the incumbent Delhi Chief Minister belonged to Indian Revenue Service (IRS), JP has academic excellence to match-a top ranker in IAS and JD Laxminarayana is from IPS. There is no clue to know if JD will jump onto the political bandwagon. He has not been given a posting in Maharashtra for more than six months during which time he has been visiting colleges and schools inspiring the young hearts by talking about dharma, values besides propagating the Vivekananda school of thought. He is an ardent follower of APJ Abdul Kalam, who commands as much respect since demitting office.
Given his credentials and track-record in public service, should JD launch a movement, mobilising like-minded people, making history would not be difficult.
Being Chiranjeevi’s younger brother was a qualification in early years in cinema, but it cannot be the same in politics now; not after the Mega Star merged his Prajarajyam Party with the Congress.
But Pavan who has inspired the young people in the State to talk of ‘Pavanism’, is credited with views that are left of the centre. People in the know of things say Pavan Kalyan is consistent in his political, social and economic philosophy, although he is not very steady in his marriage. He has reportedly married for the third time as of today, this time to an Australian girl. But then, it is his own affair and he was not accused of being dishonest even in personal life. As far as politics is concerned, he appears to have deep and abiding concern for the poor and the downtrodden. Pavan enjoys an image of a rebel star with a huge fan following. He is from a numerically large community, which is yet to have its chief minister.
He has been leading a motley crowd of leaders drawn from various walks of life, including government employees, journalists, lawyers, doctors and people from other professions. He is known for his patience and understanding of ground realities.
Does he possess the courage to embark upon a movement to create a political alternative in Telangana? There would be a vacuum in case the TRS merged with the Congress. Even otherwise, the people in general, are vexed with ‘seasoned’ politicians, who have been misbehaving with them all these years. Any sincere attempt to address the real problem affecting the people would have a positive effect.
An authority on Indian Constitution, Justice Reddy is known for his pro-poor stance and is particularly committed to human rights and individual freedoms. He is one jurist who has been speaking without mincing words on the Telangana issue. A votary of a separate statehood for Telangana, he makes it a point to provide the correct legal and Constitutional position to the discourse on the issue of bifurcation. He can carry the legal fraternity and intellectuals with him. The youth and the middleclass have a huge regard for him.
He founded the Centre for Dalit Studies, a non-profit organisation which has been undertaking numerous tasks for empowering Dalits. The SC ST Sub-Plan Act, 2013, had become possible because of the inclusive politics whose model has been unveiled by Laxmaiah and his friends. He started on a premise that no right thinking individual would oppose uplift of dalits and adivasis and that caste, religion or region would not come in the way.
Every political party chief was approached and every section of the people exhorted to participate in a movement that was meant to bring pressure on the government to pass the SC ST Sub-Plan Bill, which was historically the first-of-its-kind in the country.
Kaki Madhava Rao, a retired IAS officer, was roped in. AP became the first State to make a legislation to earmark and sanction funds in proportion to the population of the SCs and STs and spend the allocations according to the plans and strategies prepared in consultation with the dalits and adivasis.
The new Act ensures that the funds would not be allowed to be diverted or lapsed. As president of Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika, Laxmaiah has right credentials to mount a movement on the lines of Kejriwal’s.
There are many others who have been working honestly among the poor and downtrodden. Professor Haragopal is a rights activist respected all over the country. But he cannot be expected to lead a movement like the one led by Kejriwal for various reasons. Jeevan Kumar, a human rights activist, also has been working among the people and was an associate of K Balagopal.
EAS Sarma, a retired IAS office, has been sincerely working for the protection of environment. He is based in Visakhapatnam but has the ability to influence the decisions in the Union Government by virtue of his experience as a top level bureaucrat at the Centre. He had very effectively intervened in a number of issues and helped the people who were fighting against thermal power plants in fertile lands in Srikakulam district and the plans to dislocate tribals for the sake of bauxite reserves in north coastal Andhra.
Ramanjaneyulu has been working for the welfare of the farmers and has helped families of farmers who killed themselves out of frustration. As the helmsman of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Ramanjaneyulu has dedicated his life for the cause of making cultivation a viable profession. Vimalakka, activist of Telangana United Front and formerly an activist of CPI (ML) (Janaskathi group) has the potential to organise people for social cuases. Her sphere includes women, poor and the downtrodden.
One can think of Gaddam Jhansi of Dalita Stree Sakti. She is an energetic campaigner for empowerment of Dalit women. R Krishnaiah has been fighting for the BCs for a long time.
Acceptability is the main criterion in politics. Some leaders may inspire confidence only among a section of people. There are only a handful of people, who are considered as leader-material by all sections.
Can any one of them stand up and be counted? That is the question of the day.