BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate L.K. Advani who recently challenged incumbent Premier Manmohan Singh to a televised debate has got a taste of his own medicine. Advani has now been invited by danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, who is contesting against him as an independent candidate at the Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency in Gujarat, to an open debate.
If Advani believes in practicing what he preaches, he should accept Sarabhai’s challenge. Advani might be the Prime Minister-in-waiting, he might be a national leader, but he is first a Member of Parliament. Thus, his primary responsibility is towards his constituency. The people of Gandhinagar have every right to know what he has done for them during the four terms that he has represented the constituency.
Sarabhai has posed five questions to Advani, all of which pertain to his performance as an MP:
1. How many and what kind of questions have you raised in the Lok Sabha about Gandhinagar in the last five years?
2. What efforts have you made towards opportunities for education and livelihood generation in rural areas of the constituency?
3. Why have you not spoken out against violence and atrocities against women in Gujarat and specifically in Gandhinagar?
4. Despite being an MP representing Gandhinagar for two decades why have not shown any concern towards local issues of the constituency as well as the State?
5. Have you used your funds under MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) scheme to benefit the deprived and underprivileged in your constituency?
Critics might ask what Sarabhai’s contribution to Gandhinagar is, but it should be remembered that she was not an MP for 20 years, like Advani. Besides, the questions she has posed are what every voter would want to ask his representative.
It remains to be seen if Advani will take up Sarabhai’s challenge. If he does, he will set a healthy trend which can be emulated across the country, if he does not, Advani will prove that he is no better than others of his ilk.
With election campaigning becoming increasingly communalised and personalised, the real issue, that is, the contribution of an MP to his constituency had got sidetracked. Sarabhai deserves to be congratulated for bringing the debate back to the basics.