"AAP” and I
In the first week of the year 2014, I roamed in Alaknanda Ghati of uttarakhand for five days. I saw many hoardings showing people wearing aam aadmi caps, known and unknown faces. Various regional associations were also been organized at various places. Many people working with us on dam also went to attend some.
I went to Srinagar and Vishnu prayag dam affected areas. Many people have lost everything they had in the recent June, 2013 calamity. Since past 5-6 months, Matu has been trying to raise these issues by paper letting, press conferences, put legal case on Dam company- Jaypee, GVK but the government didn’t pay any heed to our voice. The government officials least cared because they had their pocket full. They didn’t care to see the huge amounts of silt deposited in River Alaknanda due to Vishnupryag HEP. Our saathi Bharat Chouhan ji was telling everybody how there are severe environmental alterations happening in laxman Ganga. He had lost a restaurant who have had employed around 25 people. His village Pulna Byondar was washed way completely. But he was more concerned for the wildlife of that area. This place is very close to the “Popular valley of flowers” and also a way to Sikh pilgrim place “Hemkund Sahib”.
Since past 200 days, people are on protest beside Alaknanda bank for construction of retaining walls to save them from Srinagar dam water. The responsibility of more than 250 people who saw their land, house getting destroyed goes to Srinagar Dam Construction Company GVK. Dam companies in the name of development/money get all the major political leaders and powerful economic people to stand by them. These issues are more important to me, which are not looked by the people who are running to join AAP in Uttarakand, rather they are overlooking these issues.
AN OLD STORY
Uttarakand, had a history of the decade’s long struggle new State. I worked with Sunderlal Bhaguna Ji, a renowned environmentalist and others. I remember at the time of struggle for new state Uuttarakhand, one of the bigest leader of the movement Badoni ji asked Sunderlal ji to join them in their struggle. Sunderlal Ji stated simply to first sort and answer the issue of Tehri dam and then he’ll join the party named Uttarakhand Kranti Dal. Badoni ji assured that we shall discuss all of this after we get the statehood. Sunderlal ji negated any such proposals, saying that then you’ll be a minister and there’ll be a guard standing outside for me.
Along with Sunderlalji, there were many activists, writers and others who had a vision of Uttarakhand. After the formaition of the state this above mentioned party now merged with big political parties namely BJP and Congress and the fate of the Aam Uttarkhandi at the mercy of these parties with no sense of real the Uttarakand.
AAP will not be like this, I do hope.
Happy and Happiness
In last twenty days, I am glad to see Arvind Kejriwal as the Chief Minister of Delhi. He feels like a part of my small family and this was a celebrated moment. I do remember that some years back a delegation of Tehri Oustees met Mrs. Sheila Dixit, the then CM of Delhi and asked her to support us in speeding up the process of rehabilitation because you are enjoying water in Delhi, the cause of which drowns us in Tehri. She assured for her support but it never went beyond assurance.
I wrote a letter on 6th January, 2014 to my friend, CM Kejriwalji. He has initially been in touch with me and enquired about World Bank on water privatization issues of Delhi. I wrote three key issues in my letter. I requested for inclusion of poor people who do not have tap connections to enjoy from the recent free water policy. Secondly, I asked him to do something for the rehabilitation of Tehri Dam Oustees and put pressure on Uttarakhand Government first to speed up the rehabilitation process and second not to give permission to dam company THDC to fill the reservoir to its full capacity. Finally, I asked him to reconsider the MoUs of proposed Renuka Dam, Himachal and Kisau and Lakhwar Dams in Uttarakhand, keeping its environmental and displacement repercussions. One of the key aim of these dam to get water for Delhi. Because Delhi have a capacity to fulfill its real needs of water. I am still waiting for a response. I am sure he’ll take necessary step and I know he has very busy schedule.. I am happy to see Arvindbhai as CM but my happiness belongs to the smiles of delhi slum people, Tehri dam oustees and green environment of Himalaya.
AAP and I
I have also been receiving many phone calls over the past few weeks about my political position and whether I am going to join AAP any time soon or if I will stand in a constituency elections or can I lobby for them in AAP. These scholars are usually my colleagues, co activists and general acquaintances. It shows that people consider our movements coherent with those of AAP because our people’s movement (NAPM) were largely involved in anticorruption movements led by Anna ji and his team in which Arvind bhai one prominent figure.
I understand corruption is a draconian problem but one cannot refute the importance of equally crucial issues like AFSPA, question of dignity, communal issue, dams, tribal, and displacement due to development etc. And yes, I cannot expect solutions of all these issues by Arvind Kejriwal ji in this short span of time. It’ll take time and many more struggles from various authorities. I am sure they need support for movements. He has a very good team of intellectuals, lawyers, activists, etc. Sure I do support AAP.
Friends, you have read THE SCENARIO and AN OLD STORY I narrated above and on that basis, I decide not to join AAP. Voting is our right as well as duty and we accomplish it with full responsibility. This time we’ll have a better option. I support AAP and I convince people around me to vote for AAP but I shall not join AAP. I would rather stay as a small watch dog in Uttarakhand, the area I am working. NAPM has an old and long story of participating in elections. Every time during elections, our old leaders, supporters, advisors like Late. Gandhian Siddharaj Dhadaji, Justice Rajendra Sachar ji, Renowned Journalist Kuldeep Nayyar ji and others have had always put pressure on Medha Patkar ji and NAPM to contest in elections because they feel that the country needs a leadership of this flavor instead of the royal, communal parties with lethargic working. As NAPM, we’ve always supported Lok Ummeedwars (People’s representative) and we’ve worked, campaigned and promoted the cause of parties like “Samajwadi Janparishad” (constituent of NAPM and the school of thought of Yogendra Yadavji, Ajit Jhaji and many others) and other such political efforts. We have also collected donations for them from people. We’ve witnessed some electoral success like Dr. Sunilam who was elected as independent MLA of Multai constituency, M.P. Later he joined Samjwadi party which he left soon and now contest as an independent candidate.
Support to AAP
So we do support AAP and have been and would be campaigning for the party, directly or indirectly, through speeches, paper letting, etc. but we all People’s Movements and alliance like National Alliance of Peoples' Movements should not cuddle ourselves in the arms of AAP. Each people movement is fighting for a specific contentious issue of a region or group. Aligning the movement with party will deter our cause as the party will stand above the particular interests of these people’s movements. There are many people in the National Political class of our country who support such people’s movements but they cannot involve themselves more than the support because of the restrictions by the party guidelines. Till now, we’re able to bring some changes and positive work in the policies through these people because we were independently fighting for the cause. The moment we enter the field as a competitor to this political class, our options get limited. Anna Hazare ji could have been an able watch dog and could have constructively critiqued AAP but this place is still vacant.
There is a need of an independent watch dog which can affirmatively work on the government policies. According to great Gandhian Vinobha Bhave, there are two kinds of leadership, direct and indirect. We believe in the second option. After the independence Gandhi himself said that the first line of leadership should go and work in the villages. We should remember their words in choosing our options today.
After being associated with NAPM since the beginning with few interruption And with Didi, I personally feel that Medha Patkar Ji also, should not join AAP. She has pressure from many of our friends. But it is need of the time that she must choose the second option.
The Country always need an independent person above political line and SHE has that capacity.
A big space and role for people's movement is always required in the Indian democracy. Keeping all these point I support AAP but I will not join AAP.
Convenor Matu Jansangthan, Uttarakhand
National Organiser (out of four) National Alliance of Peoples' Movements