Here's an extract from a comment I received from a LS member:
There are 17 places where by elections are coming up in Andhra Pradesh.
The rural polling percentages are always higher and the GHMC elections in 2009 ( the local body greater hyderabad muncipal elections ) polled a 43 % polling and the candidate with 23% votes won over the others.
And As a volunteer I accept the online complaints through kukatpallynow.com
website from citizens and try to respond and resolve those issues by working with the ground team. And 99% of the problems and complaints are about water, drainage, traffic, garbage disposal etc
. None of these are duties of an MLA, we try to tell them that. but no one comes to vote for a GHMC election.
And they complain JP spends most of his time giving impressive speeches in assembly instead of solving the problems of people of kukatpally .
I find this surprising because these people are educated internet users and cant differentiate between a legislators duties and that of a corporator or a beurocrat.
We try to tell them he is not just giving speeches trying to convince the house about policy changes which are important for everyone. but we have no takers, they want JP to come and fix their overflowing drain for voting him.
I don't know what we can do if we fail to convince these educated citizens what will we do in the rural areas. the next time there are elections.
What's the solution?
My suggested thoughts, below:
Thanks for raising this important issue. But the key is to note that our democracy functions in this manner. This is is something JP should have known very well, given his extensive field experience.
In India, MPs are treated as policy makers (at least some of them) by the people, and MLAs as their local "drain cleaners" (I use this not derogatively but to represent their local focus – it is an important role).
So the solution to this is for JP to become an MP (instead of MLA). Then he'd never get any complaint about such issues.
Of course, the "cushiest" job is that of a Rajya Sabha MP who doesn't represent any constituency and therefore NEVER receives any complaint of any sort – whether policy or otherwise.
MLAs represent the local constituency. Everyone in that constituency knows the MLA. MLA constituencies are relatively small (while MP constituencies can have 20 lakh people; MLA constituencies usually have 1-2 lakh people).
As a result people who can't afford to hire a lawyers/ agents to represent them in dealings with the government tend to go to their local MLA.
Most MLAs are happy to do this "job" (which merely requires them to co-sign a petition or at most make a phone call to a government agency). It not only keeps them in touch with the people but if (by chance!) the work gets done, the MLA can take credit for it and be assured of a loyal vote in the next election.
Lok Satta therefore can't tell people that JP is doing policy work and it won't do the job of representing them with government agencies on such "petty" matters. That won't work. If this continues, JP will lose his seat in the next election.
Doing such local things is a crucial aspect of the MLA's job: not just in India but all over the world. Even in Australia, the local MLA has a local office in the constituency and sits there on many days in a week for people to come in and complain about local issues. He/she is, after all, their local REPRESENTATIVE.
At the assembly level, politics is LOCAL, retail politics. Policy is a secondary thing in people's mind at that level (particularly in India). It is more about squeezing more money for your constituency from the funds provided by the government of India.
If policy attracts JP, not this retail politics, he must become an MP.
the focus is clear – for members to become MPs FIRST
, so they can focus on policy change which is critically needed. Then state assemblies can come in, where politics is usually murky and mixed with all kinds of local issues of the sort you've described.