Correspondent

The editor-turned-politican has a near-perfect score card on MPLAD grants expenditure in 10 years of his stint as an MP

CUTTACK: The suave and sober Member of Parliament from prestigious Cuttack parliamentary constituency Bhatruhari Mahatab of BJD may have a near-perfect score card on his MPLAD fund expenditure during the past 10 years of his stint as MP, but the editor-turned-politician feels “this is not a perfect yardstick to judge the performance of an MP.” The three-time MP feels Rs 2 crore per annum is a paltry amount for the development of a constituency like Cuttack.

Having spent 97 to 98 percent of his MPLAD fund grant in every year since 1998-99, Mr. Mahatab has always felt the grant should be hiked since a parliamentary constituency needs a bigger sanction. But looking at other developmental projects for the constituency, the BJD leader feels satisfied over his performance. “Starting from health, education, sanitation, agriculture and railway projects have had always received top priority from my side for Cuttack,” he adds with a sense of pride and satisfaction. But the voters of this constituency, who have a history of going along with the popular swing in the country, have ensured that their representative is either from the party which forms the government at the Centre or its alliance, with the hope that they attract more funds for their constituency. But that unfortunately did not happen in 2004. Most projects, which have received the Centre’s nod for this constituency are either yet to begin or at halfway stage for lack of finance. Cuttack City Assembly constituency forms one of the important segments of this Lok Sabha seat and the city has the perennial problem of water logging every monsoon for its peculiar topography. Roads and drains in the millennium city are heavily damaged.

Similarly, the pet projects of Mr Mahatab like the Apparel Park in Choudwar Assembly segment and Education Park with IT and BT laboratories in Cuttack Sadar segment have not seen the light of the day yet.

But what about the sectors like agriculture and industry? The MP feels much depend on the Central government to take up such projects in Cuttack. He also candidly admits: “At times it is difficult to come up to the expectations of the people in public life.

Mr. Mahatab feels he needs at least one more term to complete the unfinished projects he had taken up.

Asked about the common belief that Mahatab is not always in the best of terms with BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the MP was quick to point out that “At personal level I’ve no differences with Naveen Babu but I have always opened my mouth for a positive and constructive criticism.”

“Giving party ticket is the prerogative of the party president and we both have learnt from each other to address to our differences. It is natural that I have to learn more from the CM as he is now a seasoned and senior politician,” Mr. Mahatab admits.