Rashtriya Jantantrik Dal
‘He formed party out of anger, was a Congressman at heart’
REGISTERED address: Shukla Bhawan, Budhapara, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
ON THE SPOT: An imposing two-storey structure, completely deserted, save a guard.
Nestled in the bylanes of Raipur’s old city, is a house known only by its name. It needs no number for identification. For it is the ancestral home of R C Shukla, undivided Madhya Pradesh’s first chief minister. It is also the registered address of the Rashtriya Jantantrik Dal, a flirtation with an independent party his son V C Shukla toyed with in 2004, that lasted all of two months. It has now been delisted by the EC.
V C Shukla, one of the most prominent political figures in Chhattisgarh, was killed in the Maoist ambush of a Congress convoy in Darbha, which wiped out almost the entire party leadership in 2007, leaving 28 dead.
Shukla, infamous for his tenure as the information and broadcasting minister during Emergency, was also the external affairs minister during the Chandrashekhar prime ministership. A political journeyman towards the end of his life, he left the Congress for the NCP in 2003, after disagreements with the state’s first Congress Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, but soon quit to create the Rashtriya Jantantrik Dal in February 2004. The party was doomed from the start as Shukla, constantly wooed by the BJP, joined the latter in April 2004. Three years after losing a tumultuous Lok Sabha election to Ajit Jogi, now part of Chhattisgarh’s political folklore, Shukla would rejoin the Congress .
At the Shukla Bhawan in Budhapara, save for a guard, the massive two-storey structure which once hosted Mahatma Gandhi, is now completely deserted. Guard Hamid Khan says the family moved out several years ago. “It is meant as a museum but nobody comes here. Even Gandhi and Bose stayed in these rooms. I come here between 11am and 4.30 pm everyday and just open the doors and sit. The family that Shukla sahab left behind shuttles between a farmhouse in Raipur and Delhi,” Khan says. V C Shukla’s nephew Amitesh Shukla was the Congress MLA from Rajim, but lost the 2013 election to Santosh Upadhyaya of the BJP.
Talk of the Rashtriya Jantantrik Dal in and around Shukla house, and the crowd that gathers finds it hard to place it on a timeline. Some argue that V C Shukla created his RJD before he joined the NCP, others after he lost to Jogi. “Tab bahut rajnaetik khel hote the. Toh gusse mein bana liya party. Lekin vo dil se the Congressi, aur mare vo Congressi hi bankar. ( There used to be a lot of political games back then. He formed the party in anger. But he was a Congressman at heart and he died as one,” a man in the crowd said.
— Dipankar Ghose
Of the four Agra-based parties delisted by the Election Commission, one has ceased to exist while the house owner at the registered address of another, says his tenants listed his address without his consent. At the third location, residents said they didn’t know a party had ever run from there, while the fourth address was incomplete and could not be found.
The Agra Parties
Politics not his cup of tea so 82-year-old turned to writing
REGISTERED ADDRESSES: Sri Aurobindo Bhawan, 28/352, Gudri Mansoor Khan, Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Registered in 1986.
ON THE SPOT: Once founder’s home, now a furniture shop. Founder Vishweshwar Dayal Agarwal has ‘given up on party’ and moved to new house.
In the congested alleyways of old Agra, locals point to a two-storey building they say is the ‘new’ Aurobindo Bhawan. The building is barely a few metres from the old address, listed in EC records as that of the headquarters of the Braj Pradesh Nirman Sangh, but which now houses a furniture shop.
There are no number boards or banners at either of the two locations but the two-storey building is distinguished as ‘Babaji ka makan… Jo likhte hain’ (the house of the babaji… the one who writes) in this locality. The writer is owner Vishweshwar Dayal Agarwal, 82, the founder of the Braj Pradesh Nirman Sangh, who says he has a Master’s degree from a university in California.
Annoyed at the media “for not covering the launch of his recent book”, Agarwal says he gave up on his party after he “realised politics was not his cup of tea.” It is better to follow the path of God, he adds.
The party affairs, he says, are now managed by a journalist, who works with a national Hindi daily and is based in Aligarh.
Journalist Sharad Yadav, however, denies running the party but admits that he responds to letters regarding the party as “Agarwalji is too old to respond to official letters.” As for the change in address, Yadav says the Agarwals lived at the ‘old Aurobindo Bhawan’ when the party was formed some 30 years ago but later sold it off. “Agarwalji was not interested in politics so he didn’t get the address changed. In any case, all in the locality know that this is the new Aurobindo Bhawan,” says Yadav.
BHARTIYA LOK NYAY PARTY
REGISTERED OFFICE: 7/103 Awas Vikas Colony, Sikandra, Agra
ON THE SPOT: House located at the address was found locked.
Neighbours say the house belongs to Arun Kumar Singh but have never heard of any such party nor of Singh having even dabbled in politics. His wife, Laxmi Singh, later told The Indian Express through phone that the family too had not heard of any such party. “The house is owned by my husband, who is a post warden in civil defence. We have been living in this house since 2007 and before that, this plot was registered in my husband’s name. I have no idea about the Bharitiya Lok Nyay Party.”
SAMAJWADI YOVA DAL
Registered office: 3/19-C/2 Sitakunj, Behind Civil Court, Civil Lines Agra.
ON THE SPOT: House at the address owned by chartered accountant Rahul Jain.
Jain says they had rented out their top floor to a family (does not remember the exact name) which had floated the Samajwadi Yova Dal. “We got the house vacated when we spotted a banner displaying the party name on the balcony. They had registered the party at our address without informing us. It happened some time in 2005-06. I don’t have any idea where they are now,” says Jain, adding that he keeps returning letters, meant for the party, that arrive at his house.
Registered office: Geeta Nagar, Balkeshwar, Agra-282005 (UP)
Incomplete address, party office could not be located.
— Ishita Mishra
National Republican Party
Unconstitutional, says NRP chief, slams govt ‘for trying to sideline smaller parties’
REGISTERED address: T – 42/6, Old Barracks, Chembur Camp, Mumbai.
ON THE SPOT: Home and clinic of Dr Dhulip Tajne, party president. The crumbling structure is undergoing extensive repairs.
The last time the National Republican Party (NRP) fought elections was in 1990; it has virtually no presence in the state it was formed — Uttar Pradesh — and its president, 55-year-old Dr Dhulip Tajne, admits that its activities are now concentrated in a handful of districts in Maharashtra, in particular Mumbai and the Vidharbha region.
But the physician is furious at the EC decision to delist his party, formed by his father, advocate P P Tajne, in Agra in 1987. “We would like to condemn the ruling party’s decision to de-register small parties citing very flimsy reasons, which go against the very soul of the Constitution. It is a democratic right to form political parties. The Constitution is being systematically destroyed,” he fumes.
One of several factions of the Republican Party of India, the NRP, with its headquarters at Chembur’s post-partition barracks, claims to work for poor farmers in Vidharbha. “We work for the depressed classes and farmers who are committing suicide. How can we ask them for donations? The EC says that we don’t file returns but we are not in the big leagues,” Tajne says. He adds that its “800-odd office-bearers, who meet every two months” fund its operations from their pocket.
“Running a party requires a lot of finance. In today’s atmosphere, smaller parties will not survive as industrialists do not have a vested interest in them,” he says.
— Srinath Rao
Bharatiya Surjya Manch
Arya Samaji who wanted to usher in change
REGISTERED address: House Number 831, Sector 10, Panchkula.
ON THE SPOT: Home of party founder. His relatives live there at present.
The party was floated by Krishan C Garg (80), a Maths teacher and a preacher at the Arya Samaj; its registered address is his residence. Garg, who is on a visit to the US, told The Indian Express through phone that his party had fielded a candidate in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections but has since become defunct.
“We wrote to the Election Commission last year that we were not undertaking any activity. We received a letter about the party being delisted soon after,” Garg said.
Jyotika, whose mother is Garg’s niece, told The Indian Express, that her grand uncle was a “very idealistic person.”
“He is a staunch Arya Samaji and a very idealistic person. He floated the party around two decades ago hoping to bring about a change in the system. Two or three other people joined. But they never got down to contesting elections or raising issues,” says Jyotika.
— Khushboo Sandhu
Anna Telugu Desam Party
A refuge for Chandrababu Naidu detractors
REGISTERED address: 4-1-825/8, 9 and 10, NTR Estates, Abids, Hyderabad-500001.
ON THE SPOT: An apartment complex. Building that housed party office demolished.
The ATDP was founded on January 26, 1999, by N T Harikrishna, the fourth son of N T Rama Rao, founder of Telugu Desam Party, after he fell out with then Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Harikrishna, an accomplished Telugu film actor, was the Transport Minister in the Naidu Cabinet.
Telugu film stars loyal to his father and TDP leaders against Chandrababu Naidu were the party’s main financial backers when it contested elections in 1999 as part of an alliance with the CPI and CPM.
Harikrishna was among those in the poll fray when the party contested 191 Assembly seats and 20 parliamentary seats but it failed to even win a single seat.
After the humiliating defeat in 1999, Harikrishna abandoned the party and rejoined the TDP. “We did not officially dissolve or wind up the party. As there are no members, the party simply does not exist anymore,’’ an official at Harikrishna’s office said.
The party never filed any audit reports because it existed for less than six months. The building which housed the original office was sold off in 2004 and the bungalow it moved to, Road Number 13, Banjara Hills, was later demolished. An apartment now sits on the plot.
— Sreenivas Janyala
Bharatiya Samajwadi Vikas Party
After debacle in ’96 Lok Sabha polls, ‘party founder lost interest’
REGISTERED address: F-717, Mangolpuri, Delhi – 110083, registered in 1995.
ON THE SPOT: Suraj Prakash Nagiya (56), one of the founding members, now runs his property dealership out of the party office.
Bharatiya Samajwadi Vikas Party, Nagiya says, was active for three years after its registration but currently does not have any office-bearers. “We fielded about seven candidates in Delhi and Punjab during the Lok Sabha elections in 1996 but no one won a seat,” he says. The party’s founder, Dr Amarjit Singh, lost interest in politics after he lost his election, Nagiya says. He also dismisses fears of defunct parties like his being used to launder money. “We don’t have any party funds so laundering is out of the question. That is probably why we couldn’t win a seat too,” he says.
— Ritika Chopra