Lucknow, INDIA: "Politics after all, is the allocation of resources. Also politics is who gets to decide on how this resource allocation should be done" said Arundhati Dhuru, the firebrand veteran Narmada Bachao Andolan frontline activist and adviser to Right to Food Commissioner to Supreme Court.
She was addressing a public meeting in the lead up to the Lok Sabha elections 2009 in Lucknow.
"Many years ago, we went to Bihar to participate in a massive rally on issues related to women's rights. We asked a young boy if he knew who was Indira Gandhi. 'I at least know that she controls the price of potato' replied this boy. This example helps us in understanding how even potato is connected to everyone's life and also to politics" said Arundhati.
"In political science, the definition of politics is that it is the allocation of resources" further added Arundhati.
Before Arundhati Dhuru came on the stage, many speakers including a youth candidate from Lucknow had reiterated the need to build a clean political alternative. All previous speakers had expressed their concern against the rising criminalization and corruption in politics. That is why most speakers had said that 'they don't have to do anything' with the four mainstream political parties (Bhartiya Janta Party, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress) because all these parties are reeking with corruption and criminalization.
Arundhati Dhuru was right on spot when she said that we all have a consensus to build an ideal political alternative but "don't depoliticise politics to this extent." She further added "we cannot build a new ideal political alternative by putting these mainstream political parties on the blind spot. If we ignore the mainstream political parties in our isolated efforts to build a new ideal political alternative, then this reflects our immature political understanding, this is what I believe."
Giving the example of right to food activists, she illustrated how they had engaged major political parties in a dialogue on food security as a result of which food security related issues (GM food etc) are reflected in their manifestos.
"Due to untiring efforts of right to food activists, Congress, JDU, both communist parties, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), and other political parties have included food security related issues in their manifestos, as a result of a Lok Manch (People's Forum), which was organized to establish an interface between the representatives of major political parties and the right to food activists like Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Yogendra Yadav among others" said Arundhati Dhuru.
Achieving hundred percent voting in the coming elections was stressed from the beginning of the meeting. Arundhati Dhuru cautioned that "as we pump up the drive for clean and fair elections (which is right), we are also making it difficult for those without any recognized 'identity' to participate in the electoral process."
"We should not only be advocating for achieving hundred per cent voting alone. As the drive to allow only those to vote with a valid photo identity card is upped, as if without this identity our existence will be denied, the danger is lurking that those living on the margins of society may face further exclusion. Just because such people don't have a valid photo identity, does that mean they are not alive as human beings?" asked Arundhati Dhuru.
Terrorism was also discussed in the public meeting and many previous speakers had asserted that security measures must be radically revamped and scaled up. Arundhati Dhuru retorted on this issue too and said "police and army doesn't provide security, rather security for me is an innate sense which comes from those whom I live with in my society, from my co-workers, my family and neighbours."
"If we will ask police and army to provide security to us then how will we protect those people we are representing" said Arundhati.
Sharing a wisdom nugget, she said "Security comes from believing in our ownselves, human relationships and from being humane."
- Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service (CNS)
(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director General's WNTD Awardee (2008) and can be contacted at: [email protected])
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