Friday, April 26, 2013

Dear Karnataka BJP voters, elect Loksatta candidates.


I was a BJP supporter for 17 years. One of my earliest memories being Nitish Kumar's speech in Parliament (c1994) that "a Bihari will become the next Prime Minister, Atal Bihari!". When BJP was voted emphatically to run the Karnataka Govt in 2008, after the betrayal by JDS leader Mr. Kumaraswamy, the entire state wished success for Chief Minister Mr. Yeddurappa and his cabinet. But what has BJP done with that mandate?

Operation Lotus, where the most opportunist of the MLAs were bought with Minister positions, was the initial shock. The way Bellary brothers went about amassing wealth and allegedly using that money to finance Operation Lotus, and hence were seen as bullying Mr. Yeddiyurappa embarrased every one of us. But we sympathised with the BJP for having to run a government under such circumstances.

Somewhere along the way, corruption seeped into BJP ranks. Landscams became the order of the day with several BJP ministers accused of denotifying land and handing them over to cronies, the lands that had earlier been notified for the greater public good. Many of those ministers ended up in Jail. Simultaneously the Bellary brothers were taking their multi-state, illegal iron-ore mining mafia business to levels, never seen in the history of this country. It took an incredible amount of work by Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde and the Honorable Supreme Court to bring the Bellary brothers to justice. Do you remember the days when the most respected man in the Karnataka public life, Justice Hegde was pleading for the safety of his staff and witnesses in the forest department? BJP government responded by decreasing his powers, and later wrecked the Lokayukta institution with questionable appointments, which left the office vacant for more than a year.

On December 11, 2010, Ashwin Mahesh brought several civic organizations in the city, led by Loksatta Party to the Corruption Saaku rally. We all marched from Cubbon park to Shantinagar playground to make ourselves heard. At the public meeting. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal thundered from the stage and asked us to go to the nearest police station and register an FIR against Chief Minister Yeddyurappa. He went on to form the Indian Aganist Corruption group and the rest is history. At the same meeting, Dr. Balasubramanium spoke about corruption in PDS that is affecting the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society. His extensive investigative report at the behest of the Karnataka Lokayukta further exposed the levels to which Karnataka had fallen.

After numerous shenagians, BJP finally sacked Mr. Yeddyurappa and installed Mr. Sadananda Gowda as Chief Minister, and we all heavied a collective sigh of relief. Within few months Mr. Sadananda Gowda went about fixing the extreme malice that had set in the government ranks. We saw some progress in infrastructure projects, flyovers and elevated highways were getting inaugurated, Sakala was implemented with enthusiasm and a Karnataka Chief Minister was talking about good governance and development after a long time. But alas!, the vested interests in the party, removed him in the name of his caste!! Yes, in 21st century India, a well performing Chief Minister of a progressive state was removed to accommodate the caste calculations of the BJP! The ordinary BJP supporters who had resumed introducing themselves as BJP voters, were again made to suffer this humiliation.

Now as the elections loom, BJP is heading for certain defeat. Party's central leaders are relcutant to campaign for their own incumbent government. What are you going to do? Vote for the BJP as usual, despite the nightmare of the past 5 years? Or vote for Congress (who's corruption leading the Union Government is far worse than the BJP govt in Karantaka?) or JDS which can only bring political instability and help unprincipled MLAs who'll put themselves for sale?

Why not vote for Loksatta? The party has fielded 24 candidates including 13 in Bangalore. The list is headed by Dr. Ashwin Mahesh, the incredibly experienced urban planner, climate scientist and former faculty at IIMB's Centre for Public Policy. If you have lived in Bangalore in the last decade or so, its very likely that you are the beneficiary of the tireless civic work done by Ashwin and his motivated bunch of volunteers. Don't believe this? See here.

Ashwin has been identified by Wired magazine as one of the 20 Smart people, who are going to change the world! We need to pave the way for him to do that faster! As a BJP supporter, why don't you support Ashwin4MLA and other Loksatta candidates this time around and hope that your party will mend itself for future elections?

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