Keshav Vasanthavada

Chapter: New Jersey

Contestant for Position: President

Keshav Vasanthavada

It’s now been more than five years since I first came to hear about the Lok Satta Party (LSP), from my then-future-wife who lived and worked in Hyderabad. In fact, strangely enough, Lok Satta was one of the reasons we decided to get married given the fact that we both shared a common passion for social issues and clean governance and Lok Satta was the only party that seemed interested in both.

Two years later, in 2010, I met Dr.Jaya Prakash Narayan in NJ, during his rejuvenate India tour, and it was then that I signed on as a member of PFL. While I did my small part in helping with the events and organization during that time and afterward, I will admit that my role in PFL, for most part was quite passive - until this point.

Late last year, I went on vacation to India and while there, the angst that I experienced from political neglect, rampant injustice and the reckless treatment of civil liberties, caused me to reflect a bit more on my role in the political process. I decided I couldn’t be a quite bystander anymore – I realized that a political undertaking (of any kind) cannot be a spectator sport. What I always knew was confirmed by my recent India trip – that politics is not a profession…politics IS a calling!

After my return, I experienced the fervor and excitement within the NJ chapter and its role in hosting the first-ever PFL national convention.

During my short two years in this chapter I have come across a remarkable group of people that comprise the PFL NJ family. This group inspires in a way that is hard to describe – they are a tight-knit group of intelligent, hardworking and dedicated leaders and volunteers that are always focused on the tasks of building social awareness, promoting the Lok Satta ideology, and participating in national/civic causes as and when the situation arises.

And it is with tremendous confidence in the members of the NJ chapter and what we can achieve together, I nominate myself as a candidate for this chapter’s presidency.

Manifesto

I realize that 2014 being the election year is going to be really crucial for LSP, its allies and all its supporters. The stakes of this election are extremely high and each time we elect a wrong candidate to power, we set fire to the very pillars of democracy at the altar of poor choices.

As president of the NJ chapter, everything I do (especially in the first year) will be with an objective of deriving a favorable election outcome for LSP. The existing NJ chapter leaders have done a tremendous job in improving the visibility of this chapter over time and I will strive hard to continue and improve on that trend and increase the role and impact of NJ chapter in broader statewide (Andhra Pradesh) and national issues. As such, I will recommend that NJ chapter spearhead the following ambitious initiatives.

Specifically, in consultations with the PFL president, appropriate project heads and significant others, I will –

  1. Initiate the development of an official LSP/PFL political mascot that will serve as the “face” of the party and will potentially endear the party to the common man. I have detailed guidelines of this “character” which will be discussed at the relevant time. “He” will be a trademark of LSP/PFL and he will also serve as a caricature in cartoon strips, carrying the message of LSP/PFL through light humor and/or satire. I realize that this is a mammoth task that may often fall into the realm of graphic designers/art professionals etc., but if endorsed I am confident that we can bring this to fruition.
  2. Initiate the production and sale of LSP/PFL merchandise through a new PFL online store and also during in-person campaigning and fund-raising activities. Suggested merchandise includes but is not limited to high quality – T-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, hats, notepads, headphones, whistles (for disbursement during campaigning) etc. These should not be misconstrued as inducements but rather as a means of generating revenue and a strong attempt to convert LSP/PFL into a visible and powerful “brand”. We know there are many supporters of LSP out there and “if they love LSP, they should wear it on their sleeve”. We need to bring out the “cool factor” through this process. Excess supplies can of course be handed out to rural areas and/or potential big donors without charge.
  3. Initiate the design of a “wiki-style” database that will catalog all information (public and private) of all our opponents in the most important constituencies in which LSP will contest. This should serve as a handy reference for our volunteers and leaders on the ground, come election time. Since they may not have the time and resources to do all this homework themselves, we will provide this information to them in an easy, digestible format. The more they know about their opponent – the better prepared they will be!
  4. Design a paid LSP mobile application that will be intended to serve as a powerhouse of Indian political information along with great speeches from leaders around the world, including of course, Dr. J.P. Narayan. LSP should be at the fingertips of every savvy individual because we know we have the educated voters on our side but they won’t show up for voting when the time comes. Our job is to “energize” them through our ideology. To achieve the above, I will -
  5. Work closely with central and chapter level E-boards in order to collaborate on projects that have maximum impact.
  6. Revisit projects and existing activities that are of lower significance and recommend temporary suspension until one year or even total cancelation. This will be in an attempt to make efforts “intensive” rather than “extensive”.

In conclusion, to those who think that these plans are over-ambitious and/or unrealistic, I would like to remind them of Henry David Thoreau’s famous lines - "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where castles should be. Now put foundations under them."

I know fully well that together, as a team, we can lay these foundations. I will look forward to your continued support.

Thank you.