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Poll test for Andhra’s JP

Narayan campaigns in Malkajgiri. Picture by G Vijayalakshmi

He is an anti-corruption crusader, a right to information activist and a former IAS officer. And Telangana activists hated him till he finally said: “So be it.”

Today, the man known as the JP of Andhra has donned another hat — that of aspiring MP.

Asked what he aimed to achieve as a member of Parliament, Dr Jayaprakash Narayan says: “I want to take my campaign against black money and corruption to another level.”

Narayan’s campaign against the recent Rs 100-crore scam in the medical PG entrance exam led to a CID probe and its cancellation by the governor, while his drive against faulty meters at petrol bunks led to the sealing of a dozen pumps.

But although a successful campaigner on social media, he is a loner in politics. “Yes, I am a loner, but I will soon grow a tribe (of youths) to follow me,” he says.

The 58-year-old, a former special secretary of Telugu Desam Party founder N.T. Rama Rao and a doctor by profession, is the new face of the enlightened Hyderabadi. But he was twice attacked by Telangana Rashtra Samiti MLAs during the turbulent Assembly sessions in 2012 and 2013.

When the Telangana bill finally came to the Assembly, he spoke in its favour, saying: “If there has to be bifurcation, let it be on friendly terms.”

Narayan says Telangana and Hyderabad can both develop only in a new environment devoid of a scam-hit Congress and the YSR Congress, the party of Jaganmohan Reddy who had been arrested for alleged corruption.

“(Narendra) Modi for India and JP for Hyderabad,” is the slogan and tagline of advertisements for this vocal candidate who is among the 30-odd in the fray for the Malkajgiri parliamentary seat where Narayan is competing with, among others, the Desam’s Malla Reddy, owner of an engineering college.

“I campaign for Telangana and local votes as I have to work for them and understand their needs,” says Jayaprakash.

Narayan had resigned from the IAS in disgust after NTR was toppled by Chandrababu Naidu. He refused to join service when the Desam chief invited him back, and launched the Loksatta movement in 1996 with a team of retired government officials to educate citizens about voting and other rights. He championed election and police reforms and the right to information act.

He launched the Loksatta as a political party on October 2, 2006, with the agenda of clean politics, good governance and fight against corruption.

His party contested in four seats in the 2009 Assembly polls but won only his seat of Kukkatpally.

“About Rs 5 lakh crore per annum was draining out of the country illegally every year. Political parties are scared to put in place a framework for reducing corruption/black money as it could adversely impact them,” Narayan, who had shown assets worth Rs 2 crore then, says.

“My career as an activist, administrator and now as politician could be the message and appeal for vote. I am not keen to compete with others in the fray in terms of money or expenditure,” says Narayan, whose party has collected around Rs 20 lakh for the 2014 campaign.

He says he has no money to pay his agents. “Most Loksatta volunteers will sit in polling stations,” he says, adding that his appeal for volunteers had already earned him a force of 2,000 volunteers for April 30.

Malkajgiri votes on April 30