The Telegraph
Monday , January 13 , 2014
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Rights activists’ campaign to cleanse politics

- Upbeat over AAP rise in national capital, social crusaders seek similar change in Jharkhand

Ranchi, Jan. 12: Social activists of Jharkhand are planning a massive awareness drive across the state in view of the coming general elections to look for an “AAP-like alternative” in the state, which has been a victim of divisive politics and fractured mandate since its birth.

They are organising a two-day meeting on January 30-31 to focus on possible roles that they might play in the run-up to the polls and chalk out a detail plan of action accordingly.

Also, with the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in New Delhi, a section of the activists are considering joining Arvind Kejriwal’s party to bring about a similar electoral change in Jharkhand.

“There are well over 1,000 activists who want a detail discussion on what should be our role in the coming days in order to bring about an alternative political culture here,” said Balram, a social activist.

He added that the meeting would start on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, whose ideas should be popularised among voters to cleanse politics.

Balram confided that a faction of the activists might formally join the AAP and take to active politics, while others might provide back room support to the party.

Though the AAP and its founding leader Kejriwal surprised many political pundits in the Assembly polls in Delhi, situations in Jharkhand are quite different from those in the national capital. And the activists are not sure if people of Jharkhand would respond to the AAP phenomenon the similar way.

“Corruption is a contagious issue and is equally applicable here. But all other issues that helped the AAP to come to power in Delhi may not work in Jharkhand. Therefore, we will deliberate on whether we should join the AAP during the meeting,” said Gurjit, another social activist.

He added that they would also focus on issues, particularly those concerning the people of Jharkhand and should be raised during the elections.

“We will campaign to force political parties to include those issues in their election manifestoes,” he maintained.

In a similar development, the National Election Watch is planning a meet in the state capital on February 15-16.

The event is likely to be attended by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioner Harishankar Brahma.

“With our slogan ‘mera desh, mera vote’, we are going to launch an intensive campaign for clean politics. We will encourage people to vote for clean candidates. We will visit at least five of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies and hold street plays, group meetings and distribute pamphlets. Also, we will seek suggestions from around 1,000 youths on issues that they want to see in election manifestoes,” said Sudhir Pal, a journalist-turned social activist, who happens to be the state coordinator of the National Election Watch.

Pal said the outfit had already written to different political parties in Jharkhand, asking them to give tickets only to clean candidates for the polls.

“The National Election Watch has developed a system through which people from different areas can send us information regarding malpractices by parties during election campaigns. We can then formally lodge complaints with the Election Commission,” he said.

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