Lokesh Kumar is called 'Masterji' by the people around him for his contributions to the field of education. Under the banner of 'Rashtriya Rashtrawadi Party' he is fighting the Delhi MCD elections from Ward Number: 150, Green Park.
However, 'Masterji' has something more to say. He is contesting the polls and intends to change the electoral process through his unique approach. NewsGram correspondent Prashant Singh got in contact with Mr. Kumar for an interview.
Prashant Singh: So, Mr. Kumar where did you get the inspiration to fight elections? It seems that you're contesting for the first time.
Lokesh Kumar: See, a teacher has a responsibility towards the society around him. Besides being a teacher I am a social activist too. My goal is to give direction to the kids who dwell in slums. They are in no way less than others. The need is to give proper direction to these underprivileged youngsters. Any kid without direction or purpose can become a danger to society. During elections, political parties ruin the future of these kids by distributing liquor and other harmful items. The Anna Movement intended to give a new direction by demolishing such practices. Everyone was hopeful but the outcome of the movement stayed limited to the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), another political outfit. Many talented people like Dr. Munish Raizada had come together from all over the world to work for this new outfit. But today, he is not with the party. Everyone who was once associated with AAP feels cheated today. Why did this happen? What is the root cause behind it? Well, the system is flawed. An election symbol always overpowers the image of the candidate. Had it been vice versa, candidates with clean backgrounds would have got elected and AAP, BJP, Congress, etc. would not have succeeded in their agenda. They would have been forced to field good candidates. However, in reality, the power of the 'election symbol' decides everything. 'Symbols' and 'Tickets' have become the root cause of corruption in elections.
Prashant Singh: You are a teacher! 'Education' is your main purpose behind contesting elections. However, apart from your main purpose, what are your other goals? What is your plan of action to achieve them?
Lokesh Kumar: Firstly, my way of contesting is in itself a radical shift from mainstream politics. I am fighting without an election symbol. My election campaign does not have an election symbol. Why? Because I think it is a corrupt and rotten practice that has lived its purpose. Secondly, my fight would show a new way to others. It takes a lot of courage for activists like me to fight elections.
When we fight, we fight with a solid purpose. The main goal is to fight and show the world that an election can be fought and won without a symbol. If I win it'll be a moral booster for many activists. I used to think that winning is not important. Whatever the outcome, my agenda to educate kids would continue. But now, I am under pressure. People are showing support for me. They say, " Masterji! Don't leave any stone unturned. This isn't your election! It is our election! It is about all of us. The common man is looking at you with great expectations. Your win would give us all hope."
Education has always been my 'numero uno' agenda. However, I also possess an administrative experience of 10 years. I can handle things very well. We have departments to serve society. But, the candidates elected through the electoral process carry the ills of their party. They have their limitations. Firstly, they get elected by spending lavishly. Secondly, they serve the party for 30-40 years and then get a chance to contest. There is a serious flaw in this process. Even if a candidate gets elected, so much of his money is spent that the people under him for administrative purposes are used to retrieve that money from society through corrupt practices. This creates a web of corruption in a society where people get deceived by the same person who was elected to serve them.
All these problems need solutions. Firstly, we need capable candidates. Secondly, we need willpower. The AAP and BJP candidates contesting in this area lack in these areas. The AAP candidate is not educated and was a homemaker who hardly understood anything. I may be wrong but I don't have high expectations from her. The other candidate too has done nothing. He had openly announced that the reason behind getting a ticket is his 30-35 year loyalty towards the party. He has done nothing except tow the line of his party.
Let me add one more thing!
My priority is TAP; Transparency, Accountability, and Participation.
We intend to start a 'Ward Sansad'. It would take place on the first Sunday of every month. Secondly, Dr. Munish Raizada's 'Shadow Cabinet' model would be implemented. We would appoint 'Shadow Councillors'. The candidate to come second would work as a 'Shadow Councillor'. We would work together in sync with full transparency. Third would be the implementation of a follow-up of the MCD helpline. People are not aware of the existing MCD helpline. Even if people call, there is no response. We intend to change this. If the MCD helpline does not help, contact us with the follow-up helpline. Why shouldn't we use it to the fullest? We need to educate people. The current leaders don't educate the people about the process. We will do it so that in the future people become self-reliant even if we don't remain in power.
Prashant Singh: You started a campaign and made it mandatory for the contesting candidates to file their nominations with due diligence and without leaving any space blank. Recently, because of your efforts, a rival candidate's nomination was canceled. This resulted in an attack on your party headquarters at night. What do you have to say about it?
Lokesh Kumar: See, I am not scared. I am happy. I know I am on the right path. The attack is the signal that those people are feeling uneasy. We are on the path toward victory. Society is getting a better alternative for sure. We are educated, sensible, and down to the ground. We are not weak.
The Supreme Court order says that if a column is left blank while filing a nomination, it should be rejected. We raised our voices against such candidates but no one listened to us. There was some kind of political pressure. Secondly, the court says that until and unless every doubt is cleared, the electoral process would not proceed. Nobody heard our objections. We went to the State Election Commission Office and raised our objections there. They agreed with our objections and assured us of strict action. Furthermore, we were asked to file a case in court.
Prashant Singh: You talked about elections without symbols. Your face is your symbol. Don't you think that the future candidates of your party would do the same mistake? For example, when it comes to BJP, most people press the 'Kamal' keeping in mind the image of Prime Minister Modi. Don't you think your future party candidates would do the same by using your face as a symbol to garner votes?
Lokesh Kumar: What you are saying is happening today. People say-"Kamal means Modi." Today Modi is getting the vote and not the candidate. Because of this, incompetent candidates are getting elected. If the face of the candidate is kept there instead of the symbol, people would vote with a better understanding. They would know who is good and who is not. Prime Minister Modi's image won't play a role there.
There are 4 ways to cast a vote. Firstly, if voters get to know that the button number of 'Lokesh Masterji' is 5, it would help them in casting their vote even if they are unaware of other details. Secondly, if the button number is not known then they can press the button with the name 'Lokesh Masterji'. Thirdly, if voters are unaware of both name and number then they can cast their vote by looking at the photo of 'Lokesh Masterji' on the button. The fourth and last option is that of the election symbol.
There are so many alternatives. They only need election symbols for hiding the face of real candidates and sell tickets. In whose name are the votes being cast?
"Kejriwal for MCD!!!", "Modi for MCD!!!"
What would happen if tomorrow a situation arises? For example, if the drainage gets clogged, or the road gets damaged; whom would you call?
Kejriwal? Modi? The Councillor?
You voted for Modi and Kejriwal. But the person sitting on the councilor's chair is different; someone who has benefitted from Modi or Kejriwal's name. Will he listen to you? This is the flaw in the system.
Prashant Singh: Who is your inspiration?
Lokesh Kumar: Not anyone in particular. But yes, I admire people like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subhash Bose and Shastriji had a lot of experience. Sardar Patel forged a united nation and society for us. Everyone is a legend in his/her way. My worth is not even comparable to the dust of Sardar Patel's feet. Achieving even one percent of what these giants did in their lifetimes would be an honor. (KB)