New Delhi, March 31: The people of India have to come together now to reclaim democracy for its people, said Dr Mallika Sarabhai addressing an interactive session at the Jawaharlal Nehru University today. “This fight is not of Gandhinagar alone, it is of the entire country. A national movement to direct how we want politics and politicians to work for the people must emerge. It must take place right now, among all of you,” she said emphasising that her candidature for the Lok Sabha Elections of 2009 from Gandhinagar had positive implications that reached much beyond her constituency.
Dr. Sarabhai had announced her decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections against BJP’s L. K. Advani last week, stating that her candidacy was an invitation to a new mode of politics. “My campaign is as much about the process, the means, the culture and aesthetics of politics, as about raising issues that concern us as citizens,” she said. Speaking at the “Meet Mallika” interactive session organised at JNU, Dr Sarabhai appealed to the youth to galvanise themselves into action and start groups for discussions on how democracy can become citizen-centred. “We need to urgently discuss the mechanisms of our political and electoral processes. Ideas such as Right to Recall of non-performing representatives, and other corrections that we need to make to the political system are some of the key issues to be highlighted in these discussions,” she added.
Dr Sarabhai appealed to everyone to be a “Friend for Democracy” and help her in the campaign in every way possible—starting discussion groups, motivating others to take part in talking about change, and canvassing for donations.
The surge of independent candidates contesting national elections in 2009 also brings to focus the rules that weigh heavily in favour of political parties, to the disadvantage of independent candidates. “Independent candidates have a tougher time especially because they have severe restrictions on how they can generate and spend finances for their campaign,” Dr Sarabhai said, adding “I am disclosing all the donations and contributions on my website to make my campaign transparent. I encourage all candidates to conduct campaigns in a transparent manner and thus make this a historical election.”
Eminent personalities and citizens’ groups have endorsed Dr Mallika Sarabhai’s candidature. Overwhelming support has come from political groups, youth, citizen-groups, activists, lawyers, scholars, non-governmental organisations, journalists, and academicians— in the hope of a way forward to imagining an alternative view of politics and development. The outpouring of encouragement from people at face-to-face meetings and via online social networking platforms has been heartening.
While supporting Dr Mallika Sarabhai’s candidature, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer in a statement has stated, “values must matter in politics and public life. Enemy number one of the country today is communalism. He/she who opposes this force is a true patriot in shaping our grand tryst with destiny and our swaraj ordains for generations to come.”
Dr. Sarabhai was in the city today to receive a lifetime achievement award from the International Congress of Women.
As a representative of Friends For Democracy, I, Mallika Sarabhai have decided to stand as a candidate from the Gandhinagar Constituency.
I stand as a Gujarati and a patriotic Indian to reclaim politics back from politicians. I am not a third force but I have an alternative view of politics which wants to claim democracy back for the people.
I am standing from Gandhinagar but I think I also represent the women of Mangalore, the peasants of Nandigram, the farmers of Yavatmal, the victims of Khandamal.
You might ask why now. My answer is that it is already getting late and politicians are stealing our parties from us.
I am a local person and I am here to fight local problems. I am grounded. I want to return to my constituency the gift of identity and community it has given me.
I am appealing to everyone who is against the politics of hatred, divisiveness and exclusion to join me – people, groups and parties.
In solidarity and in peace,
Because she …
Has twenty years of experience working in grassroots development
Is not limited by partisan politics and power struggles
Upholds the constitutional values of secularism and democracy
Is rooted in the Gandhinagar- Ahmedabad constituency that she seeks to represent
Embodies the vision and spirit of a family that fought for India’s freedom and, for three generations, has contributed significantly in the areas of science, arts, industry, education and women’s rights
Is an activist who fearlessly confronts the politics of hatred, divisiveness and exclusion
Represents the true Global Gujarati, welcoming influences from all directions, without getting swayed away by any one
Is a charismatic and inspiring individual who leads by example
Uses the arts creatively and innovatively, combining it with her management education to create effective ways of addressing issues of social relevance