NEED YOUR SUPPORT- Praja Rajakiya Vedike’s appeal to all who believe in democracy and good governance

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BBMP Elections – A Challenge

An opportunity to be part of Clean, Efficient and Transparent Governance

Dear Friends,

Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV) is a political platform of highly dedicated social activists with decades of work for social change. We are people with a long history in political and people’s movements. We have been working in diverse sectors – urban/rural poor; rights of children, women, dalits, workers, religious minorities, adivasis, sexual minorities; human rights; development; ecology and environment; good governance and democratization. We have realized that real change is possible only through political power i.e. when people are central to decision making processes at city, state and country levels. Hence PRV is launched to challenge and change the corrupt political culture in Karnataka. We have resolved to participate in BBMP elections and have fielded two candidates, Ms. Veena from Okalipuram (Ward No. 96) and Mr. Derick Anil from Hebbal (Ward No. 21).

The coming BBMP (http://bbmp.gov.in) elections are taking place only due to the directives of the Courts. Political parties in power have done everything possible to maintain their illegitimate control over the BBMP while delaying and tampering with the election process. We believe that all existing political parties and their leaders lack values and principles, and we are determined to speak out against the status quo. The mainstream political parties indulge in worst forms of electoral malpractices to get votes – use money, use muscle power, coercion, threats and the list goes on. For them election is business where you invest some money to win elections and once elected they pocket huge sums of people’s money through every conceivable corrupt practices. They make money, many times over their ‘investment’. They make money, and people get bad roads, no street lights, no water, crumbling school buildings, poorly-run hospitals and no development at all.

Present model of development is completely against people. Crores of rupees are spent for beautification of pavements and roads while ignoring basic issues of people – housing, roads, water, electricity, education, employment, health, childcare, old age support, sanitation etc. We are committed to make sure that the people’s money is spent under people’s control, so that real needs of people are addressed. PRV will struggle to end this corrupt money-muscle-power politics. We will raise money from public to fight elections. We will not make our candidates spend money from their pockets. We are opposed to corruption of all kinds. A participatory democracy is need of the hour. Participation of every citizen not just casting your vote but also ridding the elections of even a possibility of any corrupt practice. We request you to contribute towards this either by your time and or financial support. We don’t buy votes. We need to reach each and every voter the above message, through literature, audio or audio visual medium.

People may ask, “How can poor politicians help us?” But our personal resources are not relevant. There are more than enough funds available for the BBMP through taxes. This money belongs to the people, and should be spent to ensure that basic, high-quality services are available to every resident of our city. It is high time that all those entrusted with the administration are made accountable and put a stop to all such corrupt practices that render the finances dry, without any of it reaching the needs and development of the city and it infrastructure.

Our Promise to You

We will struggle through all peaceful and lawful means to help you get basic amenities even in case our candidates do not get elected. We will work to strengthen ward committees (with its members directly elected, not nominated), and will make sure that they have the final say on what money is being spent in the ward, and how, and why. We will fight for a new culture of transparency, demanding that politicians justify publicly how money is being spent, at monthly meetings open to all.

According to media, main political parties are planning to spend at least Rs. 1 to 1.5 Crore per ward to get their candidate elected – even though the limit is Rs. 5 lakhs! We commit, not only to spending within the limit set by law, but spending every paisa with transparency and accountability. Our money will be spent on reaching out to each and every voter, one by one, to tell them about our candidates. For this, we will spend only the following, for each candidate:

  • Food, water and transportation for election workers (all volunteers)
  • Banners, pamphlets, hire four-wheelers, auto-rickshaws
  • Deposits for filing nominations, obtaining voters list, photocopying and other miscellaneous expenses

This means we commit to spending no more than legal limit. Each paisa will be spent through official channels, and all expenses will be publicly declared. The affidavit regarding any property owned by our candidates and their dependents will also be made fully public, in all its detail now, once every year after they are elected as corporators.

Our Candidates

Veena S. is a hijra, a transsexual woman, who has struggled for many years for the rights of women, Dalits, sexual minorities and workers. She is seeking to represent the people of Okalipuram Ward-96, where she has lived all of her life. “I am asking you not to sell your vote to those who are trying to buy you with money and liquor,” she says. “I promise you a clean politics, and whether I win or lose, I will work with integrity.” Having grown up in a slum herself, Veena understands the critical issues for those who live there with her, including the improvement of basic facilities, the development of women and children, and equality for all sections of people in society. Veena has enormous experience and knows how to address people’s problems.

Derick Anil, a long-time social activist working on environmental justice, beedi workers, landless laborers and many other issues, is contesting Hebbala Ward-21. “I believe in transparent governance, people’s right to information, electoral reforms,” he says. “I have realized the need for an alternative politics to make these things happen.” Whether or not he is elected, he is committed to working for the overall development of Bangalore City, with people’s participation, and making sure that every citizen has an equal share in the fruits of development. With respect to Hebbala Ward especially, he is determined to work for the fair distribution of water, waste management, and the basic needs of the poor.

Our candidates will represent people’s voices and concerns in the BBMP Council. Our candidates will not loot people’s money. Our candidates are committed to true democracy – governance of the people, by the people and for the people.

Your role

You have a critical role to play in the coming elections. You must elect those representatives who will work full-time – not just in their spare time – to respond to your concerns about local problems in your area. It is your responsibility to reject the parties who will try to buy your vote with money or liquor. You must believe that change is possible, and that honest, clean and committed representatives can make a difference. Please use your opportunity carefully.

We also ask for your support: Raise your voices in support of us. Campaign for us. Raise money. Even just one rupee. We will account for every paisa we receive.

Please send/deposit your donations for PRV in SB Account 0425101049093 at Canara Bank, Hebbal, Bellary Road, Bangalore – 560024 (A joint account operated by any 2 of our 3 active PRV members – Elavarthi Manohar, Derick Anil and Veena)

Please send/deposit your donations for Veena S. in SB Account 1174101020634 at Canara Bank, Magadi Road, Bangalore – 560023

Please send/deposit your donations for Derick Anil A. in SB Account 1202500100206401 at Karnataka Bank Ltd., RT Nagara, Bangalore-560032

Please send details of your donation (name, address, amount, deposit details) by email/post. Please send your cheques/DDs to us by post. Our contact details are mentioned below.

We look forward to your participation, support and solidarity

Elavarthi Manohar, Venkatesh B T, Yashodha P

Coordinators – Praja Rajakiya Vedike

Praja Rajakiya Vedike

43, 3rd Cross, Link Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore – 560003

Mobile: 9480974109 (E Manohar), 9845587502 (P Yashodha), 9448055465 (B T Venkatesh)

Email: prajarajakiya@gmail.com Web: http://openrun.net/prv/

City activists take plunge into politics with BBMP polls

http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/1851-praja-rajakiya-vedike-bbmp-elections-candidates

This council election will see Veena, a transsexual, and Anil, a former teacher, contesting from Okalipuram (Ward 196) and Hebbal (Ward 21) respectively. Both represent citizen group Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

By Vaishnavi Vittal
15 Mar 2010, Citizen Matters

In what is their first step towards mainstream politics in Bangalore, a group of city-based activists have come together for the BBMP council elections by floating two independent candidates. These activists have formed a group called the Praja Rajakiya Vedike, which will support the candidates in these elections.

Says Elavarthi Manohar, one of the members of this group, “We have all fought with regard to human rights, women’s rights, sexuality minority rights. We wanted to bring about a change. So we all got together”. Manohar is also the founder of Sangama, a sexuality minorities human rights organisation for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference.

Over the last two years, these activists held meetings and consultations to understand the work and agendas of various political parties in the state. “Big parties are not transparent. Small parties work only during elections”, says Manohar. This was when they decided to form their own political party to create a conducive environment wherein every stakeholder would be equally respected irrespective of their caste, colour or creed. That’s how Praja Rajakiya Vedike came to be formed with about 20 to 30 core members and about 200 supporters. It is however not yet a political party.

For the upcoming elections, two candidates – Veena S, the first transsexual in south India to contest in an election and A Derick Anil, a former teacher and activist – will contest from Okalipuram (Ward 196) and Hebbal (Ward 21) respectively. The duo filed their nomination papers today.

South India’s first hijra contesting from Bangalore’s Okalipuram

Thirty-four year old Veena who works for Dalit rights, sexual minorities, sex workers, domestic workers and garment factory workers, says she decided to contest in the polls as she had always wanted to get into politics.

Veena, contesting bbmp elections

Veena, a transsexual, will contest from Ward 196. If elected, she says she will ensure that the voice of the people will be heard. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

Incidentally, Veena is also the first transsexual in South India who will be contesting in an election.

Hailing from a poor Dalit family, Veena was born and brought up in Okalipuram. She has studied upto 10th standard. From a young age, when she was a boy, she always knew she was different. “I didn’t like being a male”, she says. Tortured and teased by both friends and family, she eventualy got herself castrated and underwent a sex change operation. Initially her parents and four siblings treated her as an outcaste. Today, however, she is the sole bread-winner of the family.

“I’m proud to be a woman today”, she says proudly. Veena doesn’t speak English fluently but understands the language. She speaks Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Veena has previously worked with Sangama in the area of HIV-AIDS. She has also worked as Treasurer at Samara, a community organisation of sexual minorities and sexworkers. She recently resigned from this job as she now works full time for Praja Rajakiya Vedike. She is also the Vice President of the Karnataka Sex Workers Union, member of Dalit Mahila Horata Koota and is the President of an Anekal-based group called Sanchaya Nele that works with Dalit women.

For the BBMP elections, Veena says there are several problems in her ward that she is looking to start working on. She says the Corporation school in the area is being closed because of the Metro Rail construction. “Where will the children go to study? I want to fight this,” she says, adding that she also wants to build toilets, a playground, library and proper anganwadis.

Her anger and frustration towards the ruling government is clear when she says, “They want to make green city, silicon city and spend crores on painting the walls. Couldn’t they give this money to the poor?”

Having lived in a low income neighbourhood (commonly known as a slum) herself, Veena says she wants to empower the people of the ward so that their voices are heard.

Even as this is her first election, Veena is confident of winning this time. “Everyone has been supporting me – lawyers, media and others. This has given me the courage to fight. I won’t stop”.

Though Veena belongs to the sexuality minority community and is the first transsexual to contest in an election in Bangalore, her contesting in the election has more to do with her work as an activist than her sexuality. “I don’t think me being a hijra is going to affect votes or the elections”. But she also hopes that more people like her come out and contest in elections next time round. “Things are not like before. Today, when you tell people something, they listen. It gets them thinking.”

Former teacher and PT instructor contesting from Hebbal ward

Taking the plunge along with Veena, is her friend and colleague A Derick Anil, who is contesting from Hebbal.

This former English teacher and physical education instructer, has been actively involved in activism from a young age. Anil has been involved with issues related to consumers, environment, women, agriculture, tribals, Nethravati river diversion and beedi workers. He has previously worked with the Nagarika Seva trust, Society for People and Action for Development, and Centre for Research on Environment, Development Innovations, Technology & Trade (CREDITTe), mostly in the area of research. Anil has a masters degree in sociology.

Anil contesting elections

Anil, who is contesting from Hebbal, wants to make it a model ward. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

He now works independently and is working with regard to Right to Information (RTI), water and sanitation issues.

Ask him why he decided to contest in the elections now and the 37-year-old says, “In my entire activism life, I realised that the decision making body is the government. Many things are promised. Very little is done. Out of what little is done, few lobbies come and hijack that also. That made us think of alternatives”. Politics was one of them, for Anil and his activist friends.

As a child, Anil says he harboured the dream to become the Chief Minister one day! “But that was emotional. I was later averse to politics”. It was in 2007 when he started giving it a serious thought and eventually decided to dive in.

About his ward Hebbal, he says he would like concentrate on the issues of water, waste, sanitation and roads. After elections are over he plans to get information through RTI on all the developmental work that has been carried out in Hebbal in the last three years.

Anil wants to make Hebbal a model ward and envisages that a time should arrive when should not have to knock on the door of an elected representative. “Everything should be available to everyone. There should be equitable distribution”.

He feels that his experience as an activist and involvement in various issues makes him an ideal candidate to win.

“We will ask people for Re 1 and one vote”

Even as both Veena and Anil are using these elections to gain experience in electoral politics, they are working strategically to win. “Opponents are working with money, muscle and liquor. When we go on our door-to-door campaign, we will ask people for one rupee and one vote”, says Veena. They are using this strategy to also mobilise funds for their campaign. Veena and Anil together are looking to spend not more than Rs 4 lakhs on the elections. They are looking for funds from friends, relatives and supporters.

Praja Rajakiya Vedike will use banners and pamphlets to promote their candidates and go around in autos with loudspeakers.

Mainstream parties versus independent candidates

As Manohar explains, the Vedike’s main aim is to bring about a clean, efficient and transparent governance process. They are clear when they say that they are not just a social movement.

Siddharth Narrain, a lawyer with Alternative Law Forum or ALF, feels that this is an indication of the current scenario of politics. “It brings in a different perspective. Both these candidates are raising broader issues. No mainstream politician will focus on the harassment that is meted out to hijras”, he says. ALF is a Bangalore-based lawyers’ collective and has worked with regard to sexual minorities’ rights.

Narrain feels that independent candidates like Veena and Anil have better chances of winning in these local elections. “If they win, it’s a sign that people are fed up with mainstream political parties”.

But those in mainstream politics themselves do not think much of these independent candidates contesting in the elections. BJP MLA (Yeshwanthpur) Shobha Karandlaje feels that these candidates should instead support mainsteam parties like the BJP. “Will they win as independents? It’s not possible when we are working in full force”, she says.

Shobha adds that she herself has worked on issues concerning sexual minorities and will continue to do so.

Congress MLA (Mahalakshmi Layout) Narendra Babu feels that as long as you are committed to serving the public, you can contest. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You need to be service-minded”, he says, adding as an after-thought, “It’ll be better if they contest as a party candidate.”

Meanwhile, for Praja Rajakiya Vedike the BBMP election is the first step in their entry into politics. They are looking to eventually form a political party that respects diversity, equality, non-violence and individual freedom. For now, their eyes are set on winning the city council elections.

15 Mar 2010

Vaishnavi Vittal is a staff journalist with Citizen Matters.

Not just your vote, but also Re 1, please – Veena, a transsexual woman contesting Bangalore City Elections

Not just your vote, but also Re 1, please (The New Indian Express)

Y Maheswara Reddy

First Published : 13 Mar 2010 07:05:59 AM IST

BANGALORE: If all goes well, Veena S will be the first transgender in Karnataka to contest an election. Veena is all set to contest the election to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) from Okalipuram ward (SC Woman Reserved).

Veena wanted to file her nomination papers on Friday but could not do so due to the delay in getting the caste certificate from tahsildar. “He has tried to avoid giving the certificate to me on one or the other pretext. Finally, he gave it to me when activists of Praja Rajakeeya Vedike gathered at the tahsildar’s Office,’’ says Veena.

Veena says that nowadays people get into politics with a business- like approach. “Spending money in an election for them is like investing money.” She feels that upon getting elected, they try to maximise their return on investment through corruption.

“Their negligence towards welfare of people made me to contest the election,’’ she says.

As for overcoming her financial constraints, she says her familiarity in the area and her involvement with various social organisations will come to her rescue. “I will visit each and every house not only to seek votes but also to beg Re 1 from each voter,” she says. “I have to depend on donations since I have no money.” She says that win or loss in the election notwithstanding, she will work sincerely for the welfare of people in Okalipuram.

She says she will ensure that BBMP implements the schemes for the welfare of sexual minorities.

“BBMP officials did not utilise Rs 50 lakh allotted in the last budget for welfare of sexual minorities and sex workers. If I get elected, I want to utilise the funds given for them,” she added

Take Back the Night/Take Back The Streets Attracts Large Audience

March 8, 2009 – Fearless Karnataka/Nirbhaya Karnataka’s Take Back the Night/Take back the Street at Banappa Park, Bangalore on International Women’s Day saw 500 hundred people gather between 9pm and 11pm. The celebratory mood at the event was evident from the variety of performances that included songs, plays, dances, and video projections. Maraa, a theatre collective, performed a street play related to the spate of attacks on women that Bangalore has witnessed in the last month. The organisers, in a unique display, collected clothes that women were wearing when they were harassed on the streets. These were displayed on a clothes line amidst the audience, and in addition to the usual suspects of sleeveless t-shirts and jeans were also ordinary salwar kameezes and kurtas.

These performances were interspersed with testimonials from women who talked about harassment and discrimination.  Revathi from Sangama talked about harassment of women who are sexual minorities including hijras. Yashoda from Karnataka Dalit Mahila Vedike spoke of the oppression faced by Dalit women and girls including sexual exploitation.

The event at Bannappa Park was preceded by a series of interactions by members of Fearless Karnataka/ Nirbhaya Karnataka in locations across Bangalore where women have been recently attacked. They performed street plays and conducted an opinion poll to get responses from bystanders on their views and reactions to women being harassed on the streets. These locations were Rest House Road, Cunningham Road, CMH Road, Ulsoor and Vasantha nagar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More pictures….

Fearless Karnataka: People tell police – Make Bangalore safe for women

A large number of people gathered in front of DGP’s (Director General of Police, Karnataka) office yesterday (March 7) evening to put pressure on the police to perform their duty – to make the city safe and secure, to prevent attacks on women and to end moral policing.

There were a lot of new people, whom I haven’t seen before in any public protest. There was a lot of high energy, giving us hope in these times of gloom. There were students, youth, techies, artists, lawyers, activists, media persons and ordinary people.

There were also familiar faces – sexworkers, sexual minorities, human rights activists, dalit activists, women’s rights activists from various groups including Alternative Law Forum, Aneka, Karnataka Dalit Mahila Vedike, Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Sex Workers Union, Manasa, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, People’s Democratic Forum, Pedestrian Pictures, Sadhane, Samara, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Sanchaya Nele, Sangama, Suraksha, Vimochana

Lets hope this new energy will succeed in putting an end to intimidation, moral policing and mindless violence.

 

Media Coverage:

DECCAN HERALD (Slide 2 of 14)

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A woman holds a placard during a protest rally against recent alleged attacks on women, outside Karnataka state police chief’s office on the eve of international women’s day in Bangalore, on Saturday….

 

THE HINDU – Safety of women should get top priority, activists tell police 

The Karnataka police should treat the issue of safety and dignity of women in public places as top priority in the light of the series of attacks on them in Bangalore and in other parts of the State in the name of moral and cultural policing, activists of Fearless Karnataka, a forum fighting against moral policing and attacks on women, have said….

 

NDTV – Women fight for a safe Bangalore

Women in Bangalore are fighting to make the authorities in Karnataka understand that women do not feel secure and that it is an important issue. On Saturday, they took their demand for security to the door of the state’s DGP….

 

THE TRIBUNE – Fearless Karnataka flays moral policing

Volunteers of Fearless Karnataka, an umbrella organisation of various local women right groups, today urged the Karnataka Director General of Police to stop harassing women who may like to file an FIR with the police to record assault or molestation cases. A large number of activists, a majority of them women, had gathered at the DGP’s office here today to protest against the ongoing “moral policing” by thugs directed at curbing the freedom of women….

 

INDIAN EXPRESS – Karnataka police assure protection to women

Carrying placards reading “Make Bangalore safe for women” and “End violence against women”, a group of activists trooped into the office of a top Karnataka police official Saturday evening and sought action to stop increasing cases of harassment of women in the state, particularly in this capital….

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