Dear Members of Parliament elected from Chennai City,
Congratulations to all three of you and we wish you a fruitful five years in your capacity as elected representatives of the people. The tenure may appear long enough right now but let us assure you that time tends to fly and before you know it, it will be time for the next elections. And so, we hope you will spend the time that the people have gifted you most usefully. Madras Musings, which can claim to represent at least a small section of the people of this city, and it has been representing them for 28 long years, wishes you all the best and at the same time, presents you with a wish list on behalf of Chennai that was Madras.
1. As Members of Parliament your time will be taken up in matters of national importance. At the same time, you should not forget matters that concern your city and it is up to you present them at the national forum. Too often Chennai gets short shrift – it is after all not the national capital or the financial capital. And for long it has not elected representatives of the party in power at the Centre. Can we hope that you will be champions of Chennai in Delhi?
2. Can you therefore keep an eye open for investment opportunities that may come to India and work to ensure that Chennai gets a suitable chance to be presented as a viable location? True, Industry is a State-subject and the BJP in the Centre and the ADMK in the State have a cosy relationship but that does not mean you cannot do your bit for our city.
3. As MPs you will collectively have around Rs. 65 crores as your allotment of the Member of Parliament’s Local Area Development Fund, going by the figures furnished for the previous Lok Sabha. Can this money not please be spent in frivolities such as beach beautification or bus shelter building but in some long-term asset such as sensitisation of people towards waste segregation and water conservation? Even a well-coordinated campaign over multiple media avenues will have a better effect than putting up ornamental fountains and temporary bus shelters. Think before you spend and when you do, make sure it is for the benefit of the city.
4. Can we see MPs of Chennai setting an example as MPs? Agreed that there is a huge ideological divide between you and the BJP, made worse by the fact that the ADMK is a junior partner of the latter, but can your dissent be expressed through the medium of debate, discussion and dialogue and not just walking out? When the people of Chennai elect you, they expect you to work and justify that mandate. By all means enjoy the perquisites of power, but also remember you have responsibilities. Walking out and stalling parliamentary proceedings are not really mature expressions in democracy.
5. Social media is awash with a statement made by a senior BJP functionary and a former minister to boot that one of the priorities for the new Government will be a river-linking scheme that will eventually bring water to our city. If this be true, and much of what is said on social media is not, please see how you can make this happen. Yes, the BJP may be embarking on such a scheme to simply expand its footprint in Tamil Nadu, but then, you as politicians must know that all parties do this and ultimately if a scheme is for the good of the people, it must be encouraged no matter what the ulterior motive may be. So rather than being roadblocks, work to make the scheme a reality and you too may benefit from it.
6. As MPs you will get to see a lot of India and abroad. Remember to be representatives of Chennai as well and speak on all occasions about the greatness of your city. At the same time, keep your eyes open to ideas and developments in places you visit that can be implemented in Chennai as also.
7. Lastly, can you please lobby hard to make sure that local body elections are held in the city? The present Government is not too keen on it but your party is and so you need to highlight this withholding of a local democratic right. As a first step towards that, can you make yourselves available to your constituents at a fixed time and date each month so that we get to see you, express our concerns and get your views? That way we will remember you and you us, thereby avoiding the necessity for fresh introductions after five years.
That said, we wish you the very best and hope you enjoy being MPs. More importantly, we need to enjoy having you as our MPs. And we will be watching over you.
– The Editor and Readers of Madras Musings