“An MP is not an MLA”

My dear old friend K. Elangovan is contesting the elections from South Chennai constituency. Twice a president of the JNU student union in the early 1990s, he is a committed liberal from the Left who identifies himself with the PC Joshi tradition within the Indian Left. He is very insistent on stating that the purpose of the MPs is to frame laws, and not make promises about building roads and lay sewage drains.

He says:

“I get very angry when I hear politicians making silly promises,” said the independent candidate from the dominantly middle class South Chennai constituency. “Getting to the Lok Sabha is like being sent to the Constituent Assembly. Did Constituent Assembly members promise roads and drains?”

“The Lok Sabha is where MPs will talk about Kashmir, about nuclear deal, about terrorism… They will make laws for the country. They may get elected from constituency A or B but they represent and work for the entire nation.

“If they start talking about roads and drains and such like, then why have state legislatures? Why have municipal bodies? Instead of explaining to the people what
parliament is meant to do, political leaders from top to bottom, from Sharad Pawar to Jayalalitha, have made MPs municipal corporators.”

A criminal lawyer for 20 years, Elangovan loves Indian democracy despite its flaws. Born into a poor landless family in a village 120 km from Chennai, he eventually made it to JNU, the alma mater of Marxists Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, who too were student leaders there.

Knowing Elango, I am sure he knows what he is getting into. He may not be fighting for a lost cause, but he sure is making his point.

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