Here’s how we can work together, Potential MP Avare…

A Bellandur resident writes an open letter to his potential MP on how he should work with his constituents. The MP has to vote in parliament based on citizens' opinions, involve them in decision-making, and give them governance data, says the author

Potential MP Avare,

Namaskara.

I’m Sameer Shisodia, living in Bellandur (recently referred to as Outer Koramangala by an ambitious builder!). I have been living in Bengaluru for 23 years, love the city and what it represents, crave the bisibele bath and the coffee when travelling elsewhere, speak a fair bit of Kannada and am learning more.

I have also voted several times for local, state and national elections. I have been involved in some community-led efforts for the lake and traffic around here – not as much as I’d like to and not close to what many in my community are doing selflessly and persistently, but I’ve done a bit for sure.

So that’s the inevitable “Who are you to speak and ask for things? Do you vote?” question settled, I hope. Because politicians ask this a lot, despite the majority of us voting regularly now, and many cajoling others to register and vote.

Now that we’re past establishing my credentials, here’s what I expect you to do for us once we’ve elected you as our representative to the parliament. From my conversations with many folks, and a certain consensus-building around these, I assure you this isn’t my lone voice on the matter.

Represent us!

Sadly, today most ‘party workers’ are subservient to their party leadership, and ignore that they represent their constituents in their every action and publicly-expressed opinion. I do understand that ours is a large constituency, and it is impossible to talk to everyone, but we can help you pick out the top issues to raise, and help discover our opinion on the issues you need to vote on.

For instance, we may never have wanted to vote in favour of electoral bonds or for the complete removal of local consent on usurping large tracts of forest land across the country. We trust and hope that you will have conversations with us regularly, gather our opinion and feedback transparently, and that your actions in parliament will be in sync with these.

We can easily help with the mechanics for this if there is intent and will, as yours is a constituency with some serious firepower on the tech front.

Open up governance data

Our ward Mahadevapura (and I’m sure the rest of the constituency too) has a huge local governance problem. Our roads, traffic, waste management, water supply, green cover, cost of schooling, are all problematic in numerous ways, and need attention.

Yes, you have MPLADS funds, and that can make a small dent, but you’re not tasked with local executive work. However, you do have massive leeway in terms of oversight, the ability to get data out into the public domain and highlight the budgets available, projects planned etc. Just the easy, automatic availability of this data in public domain will allow us to pressure for better, honest governance, for better prioritization of issues and fund allocations, and allow better public scrutiny of works.

It will also create an amazing precedent that other representatives across the country will either voluntarily follow, or will be forced to because their constituents clamour for the same. We will be glad to work with you to help create a legacy that’s everlasting, Potential MP Avare! You’re welcome.

Work WITH us: Participatory governance

I’m likely being repetitive, but we’re more than happy to help build lasting mechanisms for participation in decision-making and governance, for surfacing and prioritizing problems, and for finding solutions to those. I have seen individuals and small groups of active, involved folks in our communities putting in massive effort, time and even personal money to find solutions in our ward – be it for lakes, walkability, water or waste management, or improvement of government schools.

I have also seen their frustration when they have to push a mile to move an inch.

It will be wonderful if you can push for – both at the constituency level, and through law-making in parliament – citizen involvement in decisions, audits, prioritisation, as well as in your legislative actions. I know the last will be tough with the extremely anti-democratic whip law in place, but you can bring attention to this problem as you express the opinion of your constituents even as you’re forced to vote the other way. This is where being an independent candidate helps too.

You will be representing a constituency that has one of the most active, involved citizenry ready to solve problems. I urge you to grab this opportunity.

I wish you the best for this election, and look forward to you working with all of us to make huge improvements in Bangalore Central.

Jai Karnataka, Jai Hind.

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