I’ve been calling the MLA’s and MP’s for more than 6 years now. In the process I’ve spoken to over 150 ministers from various national and regional parties spanning various states from Telangana, Tamil Nadu , Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Assam etc.
Best and Worst conversations:
I listed pretty much all the conversations on my blog and/or Facebook. Some of the best and worst that stuck with me
A MP once hired his PA to do an end to end research on the RTI, political funding etc.
A very senior MP endorsed one of our campaign and gave some valuable insights into the party functioning
On sexual harassment, one MP said women from south face less harassment then the women from the north.
On hate speeches instead of acknowledging the wrong doing was defending based on other hate speeches
One cabinet minister was so furious some nobody dared to call him and he just hung up.
From being very knowledgeable to being completely clueless, from being very polite to being completely rude, from being very objective to being completely dismissive – I’ve had the best and the worst experiences in my interactions with the ministers. A quick summary
- Some ministers are very well informed while some are completely clueless – RTI campaign was an example
- Some ministers are very supportive and while some are very dismissive – political funding, Bastar, MPLADs calling campaigns
- Some ministers are afraid to have an independent opinion for the fear of the party whip – Land acquisition bill calling campaign
- Some ministers feel completely powerless even to take decisions in their own constituencies – Drought calling campaign
- Some ministers are outright rude and question our right to question them – MPLADs, RTI call campaigns
- Some ministers even felt empowered that someone was asking them questions and they are able to explain their views on issues – land acquisition call campaign
- Some ministers deny any wrongdoing when confronted over a controversial statement or a speech – hate speeches
- Some ministers adopt a narrative to completely discount and dismiss the real issues – farmer suicides
- Some ministers never pick up their phones despite having listed multiple contacts in the govt. websites
- last but not the least, although ours is a democratic country, there is no democracy found in the internal functioning of the party. The stance taken by the party is most often the stance of the ministers and not the other way around
What are some of the issues taken up during the calling campaign?
- Farmer suicides
- MPLAD funds
- Bringing political parties under the purview of RTI
- Issues of sexual harassment
- Hate speeches
- Land Acquistion
But why bother calling the ministers or engaging with them?
Ideally, the ministers should maintain complete transparency of all the work undertaken by them during the 5 years they are in office. There should be no reason to file an RTI or other legal means to extract this information.
There should be quarterly or semi annual interactions with the ministers to talk about the progress or the lack of it.
Until such a formal process of evaluation exists, alternative approaches to keep them accountable must be worked on. There is nothing political in this, it’s completely personal. After all, their actions or inactions makes all the difference in our lives.
From education to employment, from birth to death, the policies they make, the decisions they take and whether they implement them or not, everything has a direct impact on our lives.
We may want to keep politics and politicians out of our lives but they have a direct impact on every aspect of our lives
The least we could do is keep them accountable for what they are supposed to do and calling the MLA’s happens an easy and effective way.
So how to make the calls?
It’s a very simple 3 step process. Look up the number on Internet, prepare a few points for the conversation and dial the number. It’s as simple as that.
MP contacts: The members of the parliament and their contacts are listed here: tinyurl.com/CallTheMP. They can also be found on the rajyasabha.nic.in and loksabha.nic.in.
MLA contacts: The MLA list is slightly difficult since the state assemblies are not properly listing these contacts. However, the party usually has the list maintained separately and with a few google searches, it’s easy to locate these numbers.
A typical conversation:
Me: I’m a concerned citizen and would like to talk about the current drought situation and what is being done both short term and long term
Also have a few talking points listed and also offer to help if there is an opportunity.
Some MLA lists as examples: