Zero Budget Politics:
Only those who have patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily
— James J. Corbett, American boxer
My name is P.Madhava Reddy and am happily employed with Public Sector Undertaking BSNL at Hyderabad. I hold a B Tech in EEE (topped my class) from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Warangal besides an MBA (Marketing) from Pondicherry Central University.
Though I am well settled in my personal and professional life, abundant love towards my nation got me thinking how a common man like me can contribute to make India prosperous. I may be a little idealistic but I feel it is our very responsibility to see that we live in the highest order and educate fellow human beings to make India great again.
This is what led me to conceptualise “Zero Budget Politics” – a means to help our existing and future political leaders connect to the electorate with their hearts and minds rather than money and material by associating themselves with the basic needs of masses in different developmental sectors like health, education and employment.
For a first-timer, my idea initially may sound a little preposterous but the experiments I did with this concept has successfully established the potential of Zero Budget Politics. It becomes difficult for every new idea to be accepted by masses as it is usual for it to face initial opposition and indifference just like how Galileo’s heliocentric theory faced in 1632.
Old wine in New Bottle
Though I have coined the phrase ‘Zero Budget Politics’ (ZBP), I do not claim ownership over the concept as it is one of the age old processes but redesigned for modern politics!. Selfless investment of one’s energy for the common good of others without the need to lure them with money or material –the crux of ZBP — was already in public domain just like how Earth’s gravitational attraction existed even before Newton came out with a theory.
But it is important how existing or future politicians understand and use the concept of ZBP as the conventional model of forming a bridge with the electorate through local village level mediators like ZPTCs, MPTCs and Sarpanches will not give the desired results.
In my ZBP model, I always urge existing or future politicians to directly connect with the electorate instead of approaching them to serve them indirectly through mediators or their henchmen.
Broadly speaking, ZBP can be defined as working closely with the people and find out the resources to fulfill their basic needs like clean water, education and employment by working with the Government, private sector, NGOs and equal minded individuals.
By doing this, we get tremendous joy and satisfaction and become part of their family. In this blissful state, the minimal amount we spent might be considered as zero. I considered it is humanity. The politics that runs based on these values is considered as zero budget politics.
Ironically, the average Indian always equates service with money but we fail to realize that we don’t need to connect everything with money. In fact, service with money has little impact as compared to what real service can achieve just by connecting with people.
Service through relationship basis model can be used by politicians to deliver more in fulfilling basic needs of people in areas like health, education, employment, irrigation, literacy, drinking water and electricity besides many other sectors.
In general, politicians — mainly MPs and MLAs — are connected to the public thorough their own assistants, ZPTC, MPTC or village level leaders are Sarpanches and ward members. These bunch of local leaders generally lose touch with public after they are elected to offices – a common trait seen in most politicians across the world – leading to a trust deficit.
In fact, most of the local villagers do not hold their own Sarpanches and ward members with high esteem (some of them are also seen as corrupt too) for the same reason.
So, when these elected MPs and MLAs try to reach the electorate through these mediators, it would lead to a communication gap despite the former’s good intention to help the people. Because of their intervention, many a time, the fruits of development never reach the grassroots.
It is surprisingly why instead of these local mediators, the elected MPs and MLAs do not directly reach out to distinct village level local groups like farmers, students, teachers, lecturers, doctors, lawyers, bank, RTC, Railway, electricity, postal, irrigation, postal employees, DWAKRA, Anganwadi, Beedi workers.
There are also distinct ration shop dealers, LIC Agents, Rotary club, Lion club, Handloom weavers, different trade unions, religious groups, NGOs, media and others in the village.
Power of Trust
Once the representative sections comprising different trade, social, religious, economic and professional groups are directly reached with a one-to-one relationship model, elected politicians can initially reach 5-10% of their electorate easily without taking help from mediators.
In ZBP, politicians are encouraged to reach this target audience initially as I have found that no publicity is better than word of mouth publicity. This is because once trust of these 5-10% electorate is gained, it because every easy for a politician even to win election effortlessly as the electorate understands that their leader is serious in helping them out of their crises.
Through real service (even if it is restricted to just 5-10% of the electorate) done with affection, politicians can be sure that the beneficiaries will spread goodness about their work in the society. That’s the power of trust and in no time, the electorate are sure to see them as the local superheroes of change.
When told that it is possible to reach out to 5-10% of the electorate, well, the usual reaction could be of disbelief for an average politician may cite difficulty in reaching out as an average assembly constituency in Telangna having around 3 lakh population each.
But to such irrational excuses, I always counter them. I don’t think it is impossible for any politician to cover 25 km radius of their constituency for direct interaction with people to solve their grievances, which many a times happen due to lack of right information reaching the target people.
Grievance redressal does not mean spending money as existing government schemes, scholarships, grants and policies are there but poor and illiterate electorate cannot tap these resources due to lack of information. Is it difficult for a politician to visit five government schools, government hospitals, hostels every now and then and interact with the people and students ?
I think, a political leader can do this and, why can’t they? Let’s see how a common man like me with very limited resources, what I could achieve.
- In more than 600 cases helped arranging blood during emergency through Face book / Whatsapp posts
- Arranged ADHAAR cards to Orphans
- Arranged 3500 PCs to 650 government schools with the help of technology
- Conducted more than 100+ Social media awareness / Life Skills sessions in schools, colleges and corporations
- Helping the visually challenged to get scribes for their of exams with the help of social network
- Initiated walk for water program to create awareness among the public about saving water, (Please visit www.walkforwater.in), targeting to rejuvenate 1 lakh bore wells in thousand days.
- Helping rural folks to get admission in Govt. run residential schools / colleges
My point: If a common man (please read the testimonials ) like me can do all these things, imagine what all contestants in elections can do for their electorate. It is just the will power that matters as perseverance is bound to pay off in the long run. One has just to believe in oneself and the power of ZBP.
ZBP: The game changer in Politics
In my personal experiments, I have found ZBP’s principles can be applied to provide 360 degree development not just in politics but in many other non-political sectors like Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry. However, it is a stark reality that modern day elections are considered to be the biggest festival of the season. Fortunes are made and fortunes are lost in every election.
From a village Sarpanch elections to the parliament Elections, we see money being spent heaps and bounds. Under law, a contestant in state assembly elections can spend a maximum of 28 lakhs while in Lok Sabha elections, an MP contestant can spend maximum 70 lakhs.
We all know that the MLAs and MPs are spending much more than ceiling permitted by the Election Commission of India. For instance, an MLA from Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh reportedly spent more than 10 crores during 2014 poll.
Here is the moot point: Are they spending their hard earned money? Absolutely not. It is impossible for any average human being in India to spend crores of hard earned personal money on election canvassing. In fact, it is a vicious cycle. It works like this.
Hence, all political parties look for winning horses. It means those who can spend money in elections matter much more than who the opposition fields. These elected politicians need to continue this cycle to sustain the system. If not, they will be outdated.
We as public should break this cycle and I believe, ZBP can help bring in this positive change. If one link is broken in the above cycle, the rest will fall like a pack of cards.
When voters are given money incurring huge expenditure for candidate, winner or loser cannot earn back the money legally. Hence, they have to indulge in corruption and misappropriate public funds by misusing their power. They go on to build illegal assets and prepare themselves to face another cycle of election five years later.
In short, all the money that is spent during elections is public money. India got Independence in 1947 but is still termed as “developing nation” mainly due to misuse of available resources. ZBP is one such programme, where the contestants are encouraged to fight in elections with minimum “money” but maximum “beyond money”. This is a system where candidates are trained to follow a systematic and strategic approach much before the elections.
The idea is quite simple: keep the interest of the people or consumers foremost and be receptive to their needs and concern.
When you connect to people of all sections “beyond money”, then you are bound to succeed. People are always looking for hope. Whenever they find a new hope compared to the existing one, they have always chosen for that. There are electoral histories that have shown it. For e.g. 1977 Parliament, 1983 AP Assembly, 1996 Parliament, 2014 Parliament, 2015 Delhi Assembly were times when the electorate got vexed up with the existing system and embraced change.
May be, they voted wrong people in the process but they are not at fault as the electorate did not have any other option too.
Winning polls: Success stories
Though I conducted only 11 sessions on “Zero Budget Politics” (My first ZBP session was conducted on July 31, 2016 in Hyderabad) in cities like Hyderabad, Nellore , Thirupati , Anantapur , Khammam , Adilabad and Bangalore only last year, ZBP had already scripted its success stories for several politicians in India.
So far, with my sessions on ZBP, I managed to reach out and train 4,000 youths directly besides connecting to another 30,000 to 40,000 youths indirectly through social media successfully. They came from different parts of both Telugu states including NRIs as they realized that even without moneybags, they can effectively win polls.
1) Devi Lakshmi Narasaiah won the MPTC at Godavari Khani ( Karimnagar-Telnagana). She won MPTC seat in general category seat though she belongs to Dalit (SC) category. This feat was achieved by her by working closely with the people in their day to day life.
Normally, as per an unofficial estimate, in MPTC elections 20-25 Lakhs amount is spent during the elections in Andhra Pradesh / Telangana states respectively. However, they hardly spent any amount in their constituency. Her husband Mr. Lakshmi Narsiah ( a Resigned constable ) attended 2 nd Zero Budget Politics at Hyderabad ( 300 KM away from Goadhavari Khani) on 15th August, 2016.
2) In Bihar Sompraksh Singh ( A resigned sub inspector (SI) of Police) has won the MLA elections as Independent most toughest constituency (i.e Obra , Aurangabad, Bihar ) in 2010. I had spoken good number of times with him to know what kind of strategy he has followed to win , he said he was connected to the people well before elections by associated with their life and livelihood.
It is a different story that he resigned soon after as he found himself in a minority in the midst of corruption ridden politics as he could not adjust such a political life. In an interview to India Today, he is quoted as saying that he “wants to quit because of the bitter experiences he faced in his fight against corruption at the grassroots level.”
But it was none other than ZBP principles – though he actually came in contact with me in 2014 – that got him elected.
3) Closer home, during 2014 poll after Telangana state was formed, despite people of Telangana given clear mandate to Telangna Rastra Samithi (TRS) to form the government, then Telugu Desam leader Challa Dharma Reddy won from Parkal assembly constituency.
What’s surprising is that he could successfully withstand the strong separate statehood movement prevailing against the TDP in North Telangana and win the polls, courtesy his strong belief in ZBP. Initially, what Dharma Reddy (after he came in my contact) was to form a connect with locals by forming direct relationship.
He achieved this feat by arranging 625 computers to 125 Govt schools in his constituency from Infosys that made the people to believe that he could be helpful to their children’s future education and employment needs.
Such good deeps have a multiplier effect as in any constituency, there is bound to be 100-125 villages with 100+ students in each school. That means he could successfully reach out to more than 10,000 students besides indirectly connecting to more than 6-8 voters ( parents , grand parents , uncles and aunties on either side) of each student.
It becomes a matter of pride for poor parents that their children could access free IT education despite studying in ill maintained government school system.
Those interested can reach out to me at 09490244255