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You've to Make Hard Choices in Politics

Jayaprakash Narayan, who launched Lok Satta party in 2006, tells Forbes India that one has to make hard choices in politics right from the start

Published: Oct 13, 2012 06:24:37 AM IST
Updated: Oct 11, 2012 03:16:47 PM IST
You've to Make Hard Choices in Politics
Image: D. Ravinder Reddy

Dr Jayaprakash Narayan
Designation: President, Lok Satta Party and MLA of Kukatpally Assembly Constituency (Andhra Pradesh), founder of the Lok Satta Movement
Qualification: MBBS, IAS (resigned)
Hobbies: Reading

Q. Why is it difficult for a new political party with honest means to make a place for itself in India’s political scene? What are the obstacles?
Ours is a very fractious society. Caste, region, religion: The irrational factors that should not play a part in nation-building. When you and I talk about India, we talk about a nation which transcends all these factors. But the real India does not transcend these issues. For any sensitive soul it is a very painful thing to accept. You don’t like to confront these things. But the moment you become a political force you have to. It’s easy to blame political parties but once you become a party you face two hurdles: People who were with you until yesterday will say, ‘No, it’s all bad and therefore I don’t want anything to do with you’. The second problem arises when you take up issues like corruption. Who in India would say I don’t want to fight? It’s like motherhood and apple pie. But the moment you come into politics you have to make hard choices. You cannot be everything to everybody all the time.
Q. In your own experience as a leader of the Lok Satta party what was the single biggest challenge you faced?
Getting leaders of quality and stature is the biggest difficulty. Even though we think about democracy in Western terms—committed people with an honest agenda, a slick and powerful campaign with people voting for them—we are far from that ideal. People [in India] are looking for a local champion who can take care of their day-to-day problems, starting from a case in the police station to getting a power connection or a birth certificate. They do not distinguish between an MP, MLC and municipal councillor. People want someone who has the capacity to solve these problems.
Q. How do you view the anti-corruption movement after Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal decided to part ways?

There’s a lot of disappointment I know. But I’m sure eventually it will pave way for a better understanding of the political process and the transformation of parties that exist now, or creation of alternative political forces. This is part of a churning that is going on in the country at the moment.

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(This story appears in the 26 October, 2012 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Krishna

    When we talk of corruption, its not just about corrupt politicians, but also corrupt citizens/voters who get sold out to local parties for sake of caste, religion, money, liquor and other benefits.

    on Oct 17, 2012
  • Dr. Madhusudhanan G

    We have seen major transitions in business, media, IT, etc., though India has its own unique hurdles. This decade and the next will see a such a transition in politics as well and the Lok satta movement, the IAC have already started seeding this.

    on Oct 13, 2012