I shall be an agent of change: former cop Amod KanthNovember 16th, 2008 - 11:11 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) A year after he shed his police uniform, Amod Kumar Kanth is all set to don the role of a politician. And after years of fighting criminals, he is ready for a new role to be an “agent of change” for the poorer people of the capital. “From a police officer to activist and now a politician is a logical and gradual growth for me,” said Amod Kanth, a student of history and law who served the Indian Police Service (IPS) for 33 years after joining it way back in 1974.
“There will be no change in my attitude towards problems, people and my role as an agent of change,” Amod Kanth told IANS in an interview at the office of his NGO Prayas, as he prepares for the Nov 29 Delhi assembly elections in which the ruling Congress party has fielded him as a candidate.
Taking to politics, says the man whose face and name are familiar to millions in the Indian capital, will broaden his vision in his mission to build a better society.
“As an activist I have been working for abused women, children and migrants living in tough conditions. My joining politics will broaden my canvas to uplift this section of our society that is still a majority in Delhi,” he said.
The 61-year-old is contesting from Sangam Vihar, the biggest slum cluster in the capital that is home to many thousands of poor people who do a wide variety of petty jobs for a living.
It is a locality where water and electricity are always in short supply, where drains are perennially choked and where crime is rampant, in part due to the intense poverty.
Wearing a white stripe shirt, cream colour pant, neck scarves with a very visible Congress symbol and black sports shoes, Amod Kanth said that providing basic amenities to the people in Sangam Vihar would be his greatest priority.
“The area lacks roads, water, sewage, education and health facilities. Migrants residing there are a hard working lot but do not get their share of respect and minimum facilities.”
Amod Kanth should know what he is talking about. For years, he has run Prayas which works among the underprivileged, particularly abused, abandoned and exploited children whom he has literally picked from the streets and slums and brought them to the cared for confines of a children’s home and juvenile justice centre that Prayas runs.
“My NGO and I have been working in this area for over eight years. Prayas has 47 centres in Sangam Vihar. I understand the people, they connect with me and I think there cannot have been a better candidate than me.”
The former police officer tells you proudly that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also offered to field him from Sangam Vihar but that he turned down the offer.
Why? And why is he not contesting as an independent candidate?
“In political life, you can achieve your vision only through the backing of a political party,” said Kanth, adding that it was Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who helped him overcome his earlier aversion to politics.
“The Congress ideology suits me. I associate myself with that ideology. The party is like an India… most secular. The Congress is a way of life. I believe my dreams and visions can be fulfilled through my association with this party,” he explained.
A winner of the President’s Police Medal, Amod Kanth has handled many high-profile cases — from former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers to the stock market scandal blamed on broker Harshad Mehta. For years, he served Delhi Police in various capacities earning in the process the reputation of an efficient and upright officer.
But he has critics too.
Fingers were pointed at him over his role as an investigative officer in the 1999 murder of former model Jessica Lal. He was also accused of giving permission for Uphaar cinema although it lacked the fire fighting mechanism, leading to a massive tragedy in 1997 killing 59 people.
He has brushed aside these charges as motivated and not borne by facts and said he is determined to serve the underprivileged, particularly deprived children, by being empowered as a member of the 70-member Delhi legislative assembly.
Kanth’s main rival is S.C.L. Gupta, a doctor who is contesting on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket.