I witnessed the Nav-Nirman Andolan of 1973 first hand. I was studying in Ahmedabad at that time and saw the government of Chimanbhai Patel topple as a result of this agitation. It was started off in hostels and universities by students to ultimately envelope the entire state. Jayprakash Narayan was considered by the leaders of this agitation to be their guide and mentor. He was 71 years old at that time and was a veteran of the Indian independence struggle. He had already achieved the status of a senior statesman and was on his way to become the Lok Nayak. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat ratna in 1998.
When I first heard about Dr. Jayprakash Narayan's Lok Satta Party, I was intrigued by the similarity in name and that was one reason why I decided to investigate further . And I have to say that I am pretty impressed. Anyone who is against kleptocracy and wishes to promote the cause of liberty and better governance is a good guy in my book. A rural development model similar to Dr. Atanu Dey's RISC model, about which I have written earlier, also finds a place on his agenda. The party has fielded candidates in by-elections in Andhra Pradesh and has managed to get about 13% of the popular vote. This party has also held internal elections which is an anomaly in Indian politics!
I am disappointed with their website and content. Because I believe that any political movement that wishes to reform the prevailing system, has to reach out not just to the grassroots voters but has to attract potential leaders as well. And the internet is a crucial medium in this day and age, if you want to attract high caliber, young professional leadership material, as JP obviously wants to do.
He has managed to create a huge profile without the help of existing political parties or their infrastructure and should be commended for that. From what I am hearing, his party is planning to participate in the national elections this year and I wish them all the best.
I think his approach so far has been to create a grassroots movement, with the belief that good honest leaders will automatically emerge from the movement at the right time.
The Freedom Team of India is another movement which has similar goals. But their approach is to find enough honest, like minded leaders first and gather critical mass before contesting elections.