By Abhinita Mohanty:
“He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything that points clearly to a political career” proclaimed Geogre Bernard Shaw once; perhaps too annoyed with the botched up politics of his time. Contemporary politics is and the public’s anger, hatred and aversion towards politicians are still the same, at least in India. But when within the dirt of politics (and in a business where ‘hypocrisy and dishonesty’ rules) rises an exception, then the public support and respect one gets becomes immense. Intellectuals predict that the recent changes in the Indian political arena, with the rise of new parties, enthusiastic youths with a zeal to do something for the nation, is going to change the face of Indian politics in coming years. Many of the ‘gen-next’ leaders are not only competent but also do ‘politics’ differently. Their efforts to decrease the gaps between the people and leaders and their desire to ‘de-eliticise’ themselves are remarkable. One such young leader is the Kendrapada (Odisha) BJD MP from Lok Sabha, the suave Jay Panda.
Baijayant “Jay” Panda has become one of the well known faces of Indian politics which stands for ‘good and clean’ governance. He started his political career with his entry into Rajya Sabha in the year 2000 and went on to be elected directly by the people becoming a Lok Sabha MP. The people of his constituency have constantly shown their affection towards their MP for the sole reason that he combines efficiency with accessibility and transparency. What seems to be pertinent is to discuss his achievements and the reason why he has been successful in striking a chord with the masses.
A good leader needs to look beyond the larger politics and get involved in a lot of other activities in collaboration with the people of their constituency. Panda has been involved in many developmental issues within the constituency and understands the local needs of his people. Instead of blindly following the policies dictated by the ‘policy planners’, its pertinent to the heterogonous needs of a local community. Panda has been playing a key role in the development of the people of Kendrapada. The place has always been victimized by intense floods and natural calamities. Unlike other leaders who love to make an ‘aerial tour’, Panda not only personally organised the relief operations but also personally visited the inaccessible areas to distribute relief and listen to people’s grievances. Even the worst hit areas were covered by boats. He also took care of the post flood medical facilities in the district by organizing free medical camps. As far as health facilities are concerned, it has improved substantially in Kendrapada along with efficient PHCs, he has made a lot of efforts to make functional Mobile Health Units in his constituency.
Panda has started some unique way of communicating with the people and addressing their problems with the least delays. The schemes like ‘Sukha Dukhara Sathi’, crisis help, post card relief has made the people feel that their MP is a ‘next door guy’ who is just a ‘call away’. The former refers to making people think that he is their friend, both during happy and sad times. Through this concept, he tries to reach people from different social backgrounds and shows his support. The crisis help has actually helped people who are caught in emergency situations related to accidents, health, fires, etc. fast help is provided from Jay’s office to victims of such untoward incidents. Post card system has facilitated people to just send their grievances by post personally to Jay and get it solved soon! When the voice of the masses is ignored by the officials (which happen often) a ‘post card’ acts as a miracle for the denizens of Kendrapada. All these ‘unique’ ways devised by him, bring him closer to the people. Both in terms of socio economic development and infrastructure development, efforts has been made to bring a change in people’s lives. For them, he is no longer the inaccessible man seen in posters but a person like them to whom they can send posts!
Panda has been successful not just as a local leader but equally admired as an MP in the Parliament. He has introduced a lot of private member’s Bills that deals with important issues like increasing the power of the Auditor and Comptroller General, removing the tainted leaders and putting a check on criminals in politics, etc. He has been associated with many committees and campaigns which aim at public welfare. His role has been important in the campaign against tobacco. In his bill, he seeks to increase the graphic warning on tobacco cover and restraining their promotions and advertisements in public areas. Very recently, he was involved in the cause of the exploitation of Odiya migrant worker in the brick kilns in Andhra. He wrote to the Human Rights Commission and the Andhra CM and visited the place himself to get first hand information.
He has been active in social networking sites like facebook and twitter where he regularly updates his day’s activities and photos. His website is impressive as it shows all details about the developmental work he has done in Kendrapada, his associations, interviews, policy opinions, articles, etc. It also has a section to promote tourism in Kendrapada. The website also contains regular updates of various meetings held quarterly in Kendrapada. The site has been very useful for the Kendrapada people to directly know what he is doing and communicate with him. All these efforts Jay Panda has made have proved that a real good leader can change the way development and politics is done. Politicians must learn that along with honesty, it is skills, competency, desire to achieve something and most importantly, making themselves a part of the lives of the masses, is the only way to gain respect. Theodore Roosevelt rightly said that ‘the most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice’.