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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The legendary cofounder of tech giant Infosys NR Narayana Murthy had once said democracy is all about delegation of power by vast majority of citizens to a few representatives  chosen on merit and competence.

As the seventeenth Lok Sabha has completed three sessions - Budget, Monsoon and Winter, the moment is ripe to take a glance at the 'merit and competence' of the chosen representatives from Odisha.

When recently the Odisha government has made 75 per cent attendance  mandatory for the students in colleges, it's imperative to take a reality check on attendance of MPs from Odisha in the 17th Lok Sabha till the end of Winter session.

If one goes by the criterion of 75 per cent attendance, three MPs from Odisha have a very pathetic record to show. Data on public domain shows while Rajashree Mallick (BJD MP from Jagatsinghpur) with an attendance rate of 57 per cent during the period June 1 - December 12, failed the attendance test miserably.

The other poor performers were: Chandra Sekhar Sahu (BJD MP Berhampur) who scored an attendance rate of 63 per cent ; Anubhav Mohanty (BJD MP Kendrapada) scored 73 per cent.

Significantly, two MPs from Odisha have scored a perfect 100 per cent attendance in the 17th Lok Sabha. BJP veteran and former Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram scores a century, and so too is BJD MP from Aska, also CM Naveen Patnaik's women empowerment face, Pramilla Bisoyi.

While Bhatruhari Mahtab has an attendance rate of 96 per cent, bureaucrat-turned-politician and BJP MP from Bhubaneswar Aparajita Sarangi has an attendance rate of 95 per cent.  

However, in the democracy varsity, veteran politician and six-time MP Bhatruhari Mahatab shines as the best MP from Odisha.

A look at the combined yardsticks of attendance, participation in debates, asking number of questions and raising matters of public importance during the zero hour, the six-time MP scored the top marks among MPs from Odisha.

Mahtab (BJD MP from Cuttack) has asked 81 questions during the period of June 1 - December 12 in the current Lok Sabha. He had also introduced three private member bills.The BJD MP from Berhampur, Chandrasekhar Sahu, who has a poor attendance record to show, comes second in asking questions regarding important Odisha-related matters in Lok Sabha.

The others in the list of top-5 performers in the indicator are: Pinaki Mishra (Puri BJD MP and Party's Parliamentary Leader), who asked 49 question during the period June 1 - December 12., He was followed by BJP MP from Bolangir Sangeeta Deo  (44 questions) and Congress MP from Koraput Saptagiri Ulaka.

And the poor performers are, surprisingly, the younger MPs from Odisha. BJD MP from Keonjhar Chandrani Murmu has so far asked a neat 'zero' number of questions in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, BJP MP from Mayurbhanj, Bishweswar Tudu, has also scored a big 'zero' in questions yardstick.

In the debate benchmark,  Cuttack MP again tops the State MPs by participating in 53 debates in the 17th LS. Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka comes second by virtue of taking part in 30 debates.

In contrast, BJP MP Bishweswar Tudu has been at the bottom as he could participate in mere one debate, and is followed by BJD's Pramilla Bisoyi with participation in mere 2 debates.

The big telling comment on Odisha MPs is not a single MP, except Mahtab, from the State has introduced any private member bill in the 17th Lok Sabha so far.

Why Private Member Bills considered a benchmark for MPs?  The Indian Constitution has granted this unique power to the MPs so that they can use their wisdom and understanding to suggest laws to deal with the pressing issues.

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