The first national convention of People's Politics Front (PPF) shall be convened in the state capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, on 5-6 March 2009.
"People's Politics Front has been formed to build a political alternative in the country so that people's issues can be brought to center-stage and the dominant model of mainstream political parties which rely on muscle power, money power and unscrupulous ways for winning elections can be rejected" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay awardee (2002) for emergent Leadership and senior social activist.
"PPF is slowly but surely rising from its inception stage" remarked Arundhati Dhuru, the firebrand leader of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM).
On 5 March 2009, a public meeting shall be held in Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall, Aminabad, Lucknow, and on the second day, 6 March 2009, a meeting of social activists shall be convened in the Common Hall, B Block, Darul Shafa, opposite Vidhan Sabha, Lucknow.
"People's issues highlighted through various people's movements are sadly not at the centre-stage in the elections," said Dr Sandeep Pandey.
NAPM, the largest network of grassroots people's struggles in India, had come up with People's Politics Front before the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. PPF gives voice and a platform to grassroots activists to participate in the electoral process.
"PPF is trying to increase representation and meaningful participation of the most underserved communities. It is within this context that the role of people's movements becomes imperative. The movements have been 'in politics', as they have been shaping and trying to change the power structure and decision making processes within society. That is what politics is all about. Electoral politics is one of the dimensions of the larger political sphere" explained Arundhati Dhuru, who apart from leading NAPM, is also a Narmada Bachao Andolan frontline veteran activist, who is actively working on Right-to-food, RTI (Right to Information) and NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) all across the UP state.
"Even within electoral politics, the people's movements have been participating in various capacities, either by pressurising existing political parties to integrate peoples' issues into their agenda, creating awareness among the voters, trying to weed out corruption and malpractice, and supporting suitable political parties. Contesting the election by the members of people's movements is again one of the ways of direct intervention into electoral politics."
Keshav Chand, another grassroots leader from Deoria, said that "people's movements must have a say in policy making. Right to work and food for work must be made fundamental rights."
There are many grassroots leaders who are likely to attend this national convention, including: Mahesh Kumar Pandey from Kanpur, Ram Sagar Verma from Hardoi, Keshav Chand from Deoria, Jaishankar from Chandauli, Prem Kumar from Moradabad, Nandlal from Varanasi and others.
"Corporatisation and criminalisation of politics is a major concern," said Dr Sandeep Pandey. "The PPF's decision to enter electoral politics was aimed at changing the nature of politics," he said.
[Citizen News Service – CNS]
(The author is a World Health Organization's WNTD Awardee 2008 and writes extensively on health and development. He can be contacted at: [email protected])