Is there a need for Political Party?

Is there need for launching Lok Satta as a political party when it has been so successful as a people’s movement?

Lok Satta today is the largest organization in India working for democratic reforms. The Lok Satta movement has brought about a few significant results in terms of governance and in other areas. It is true that people have pinned some hopes on the movement and want it to continue doing the good job. But what has become obvious is that the only result of the five-year periodic change of guard has been a change of players. What is needed is a fundamental change in the rules of the game.

The political parties don't have a clear purpose or vision to bring about fundamental changes to the Indian body politic. Even if there is will, they have not the power. The political parties are caught in a vicious circle. I believe that, at the top level, some of the political parties want to bring some change. But they have become badly dependent upon the dubious elements and practices prevalent for their own existence. Candidates are spending huge amounts in elections. They pollute the entire body politic trying to recover that money. Political parties are finding it impossible to come out of the present political culture.

Both our economy and society have been moving forward making good strides. Due to the intrinsic strength in our society, inspite of the drawbacks in governance, our economy is surging forward with a growth of 8 to 9%. It could have been even better, but our social and economic development is being held back by our corrupt politics. With this, our vehicle of development has on one side the wheel of a jet aircraft while on the other that of a bullock cart. If we don't correct it, our economy will be in shambles leading to more chaos.

It has become impossible for people to carry on any kind of commercial activity while withstanding competition without indulging in corruption. Right from allotment of  land to industries, excise taxes, and payment of day to day taxes, corruption has become omnipresent. It has been proved through studies that in the absence of corruption, our economy would grow by at least 2 to 3% more. This is not a small number. Corruption in politics is holding back creation of wealth and employment.

All this is leading to disappointment with life for many. While a few are getting opportunities and are cashing in, a lot more find no space in the society for them, leading to heartburn. Villages and city slums are tragedy-struck with no way out for their peoples. The fate of an individual is decided by the chance of birth. Children from poor and lower caste households are deprived of good education leading to bleak futures. Their only hope for vertical social mobility, education, is not within their reach. While they are exposed, through the media, to dazzling lifestyles of a fortunate few, they see no way to escape out of their own dark and dull lives devoid of opportunities and hope. This is leading some of them to harbor resentment against society. This resentment and absence of a way out is leading some to adopt illegal ways for achieving wealth while the collective angst is leading some to take to violence in the name of annihilation of privilege and redistribution of wealth. The middle and higher classes feel insecure in this kind of atmosphere. They want the government to strengthen the criminal justice system and assure peace even by using force. But we need to realize that what we are witnessing is not merely a law and order problem. It is a social situation created by denial of opportunities to some sections of society. We need a strong political will to take steps to mitigate the grievances of the dissatisfied lot. This is utterly absent in the prevailing political culture.

In these circumstances, a new political party should mean not only the entry of a set of new faces into politics. We need to redefine politics and usher in a new political culture that recalls the political ethics of the likes of Gandhiji and Ambedkar. We can change the status quo when we prove that people are able to discriminate between good and bad and are ready to welcome a new political culture. Lok Satta has only responded to the clarion call.