MP who submits himself for examination every year

March 24th, 2009 - 10:49 am ICT by IANS  

Govinda By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, March 24 (IANS) Ever heard of an Indian MP submitting an annual self-appraisal report to the people of his constituency?

Meet 59-year-old M. Ramadass of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a doctorate in economics and an economics professor-turned politician who is charting a new course in politics.

He is the only member in the outgoing Lok Sabha and perhaps the first Indian MP to submit to the people of Puducherry an annual report of his activities as their representative.

Asked if the concept was borrowed from his academic field, the first generation politician told IANS: “I felt it is my duty to give an account of my activities to the people. I want to be accountable to my people.”

His annual reports contain the welfare schemes and various projects brought to Puducherry by him, debates in which he participated in the Lok Sabha, his attendance in parliament, the utilisation of the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) and the protests and even social events in which he took part.

By his own admission, Ramadass, who hails from a fishermen community, has taken part in 151 parliament debates, raised 380 questions and has scored 94 percent attendance.

According to a study by PRS Legislative Research, an independent research initiative, nearly 60 MPs including former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and actor-politicians Dharmendra and Govinda did not ask a single question in the 14th Lok Sabha. Sixty-seven MPs asked 10 or fewer questions.

Admirers of Ramadass say he was instrumental in bringing to Puducherry the Rs.330 million Karaikal port project, improving rail connectivity, and expanding railway reservation counters at Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam.

“Our MP was instrumental in the conduct of local body elections in Puducherry after a four-decade gap. He was also instrumental in devolution of powers to the local bodies,” said one PMK worker.

Ramadass is also credited with elevating Puducherry’s classification to that of New Delhi — so that the house rent allowance (HRA) for government employees goes up.

As to the utilisation of funds under the MPLADS, against his entitlement of Rs.100 million (Rs.10 crore) for five years, Ramadass issued work orders for Rs.125 (Rs.12.5 crore). “I have effectively used the unspent money of my predecessor. My focus is on improving the basic amenities for the people,” he said.

Way back in 1986 Ramadass was in the limelight for a brief period when he won the National Prize for the best suggestions on the making of the Indian budget.

It was PMK founder S. Ramadoss who convinced him to join politics.

“Our leader wanted educated people to enter politics. My wife was very apprehensive about my entering politics, from being the registrar of Pondicherry University. A lot of cajoling had to be done,” he recalled.

In 2004, Ramadass was elected to the Lok Sabha, securing 241,653 votes (49.95 percent), defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate who got 171,472 votes (35.65 percent).

Today his services are utilised by the PMK, which submits alternative budgets for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, and also for preparing the party’s election manifesto.

As an academician he has guided seven Ph.Ds, 40 M.Phils and 15 M.S. theses. He has also authored five books and has 45 research papers to his credit.

At a time when even small-level politicians speed around the cities in big fuel guzzling utility vehicles, Ramadass is satisfied with his old Tata Indica car.

He is confident of not only getting the party’s nod to contest again from Puducherry but also of winning. His annual reports, he knows, have won the hearts of his voters.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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