An earlier article on India Together had emphasised the roles and responsibilities of our Members of Parliament. As we approach the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April and May, it becomes critical to assess our elected representatives against some of these parameters.

How regular has your MP been in office? Which are the issues that he has been most vociferous about? How much of the MPLADS funds sanctioned or released to him has been actually utilised?

In the first of a series of articles that will focus on MPs from key urban constituencies, here is an overview introducing the current elected representatives from Kolkata and a snapshot of their performance against the questions raised above.

The background

Politics in Bengal saw a complete overhaul in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Bengal had been a Left stronghold for more than three decades but people craving for change voted in the Trinamool Congress in the last Assembly elections held in the state.

The All India Trinamool Congress, which had managed only one seat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections made some strategic changes in 2009, the most important of which perhaps was forging an alliance with the Congress. They together won 25 seats (TMC -19, Congress - 6) while the Left Front won only 15. This was a marked change from 2004, when the CPM had won 26 seats.

Of the 42 MPs in West Bengal, five hold constituencies in Kolkata and its urban vicinity - namely the constituencies of Kolkata Uttar, Kolkata Dakshin, Dum Dum, Jadavpur and Barrackpore.

 From left to right: Dinesh Trivedi, Saugata Roy, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Subrata Bakshi, Kabir Suman

Dinesh Trivedi | Constituency: BARRACKPORE

A trained pilot and an MBA from the USA, Dinesh Trivedi made his foray into politics by joining the Congress in 1980 before he moved to the Janata Dal in 1990. Trivedi shot into prominence when he asked the Supreme Court to make the Vohra report on the criminalisation of politics in India public. This petition gave a push to the Right to Information movement.

In 1990 he became a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal and went on to be the Chairman, Passengers Amenities Committee, Ministry of Railways. He was one of the founder members and the first general secretary of the All India Trinamool Congress.

He contested the elections in 2009 from Barrackpore as a Trinamool candidate and defeated Tarit Topdar, the six-time sitting CPI(M) MP by a margin of over 56,000 votes.

Controversies during tenure: In 2011, Trivedi was appointed the Cabinet Minister for Railways, a post from which he had to resign in March 2012 after his presentation of the Railway Budget, where he proposed a passenger fare hike after almost a decade, going against the wishes of his party leader. The hike in passenger fees was not supported by the Chief Minister of West Bengal and his own party chief, Mamata Banerjee and eventually Trivedi had to step down.

Issues he has taken up: As the railway minister, Trivedi advocated instituting a rail regulator to fix rail fares, privatization of the railways and exploring various possibilities of the Railways adding 2 per cent to India's GDP. He believed that Indian Railways should have a proper structure irrespective of the political party that came to power. He also showed interest in introducing high-speed trains in India with Japanese technical support.

Subrata Bakshi | Constituency: KOLKATA DAKSHIN (SOUTH)

Subrata Bakshi is the State President of Trinamool Congress. He has been a close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since the inception of the All India Trinamool Congress in 1998.

In the 2001 Assembly Elections, Bakshi contested from Bishnupur in Bankura District and won. He held dual portfolios as the Minister of State for Public Works and the Minister for Transport in the West Bengal government.

When Mamata Banerjee became Chief Minister and was required to resign from the Lok Sabha, she offered Bakshi her Kolkata (Dakshin) Lok Sabha seat. In 2011, Bakshi contested the by-elections and won the seat.

Bakshi defeated Ritabrata Banerjee of CPI(M) in the by-election by a margin of 2,30,099 votes

Although he has been through thick and thin with Mamata Banerjee, Bakshi has always maintained an extremely low profile; Leave alone controversies, there has been, in fact, very little coverage of him in media.

Issues he has taken up: As a member of the Lok Sabha, Bakshi has been known to have associated himself in the debate over the issue of abduction of Jhina Hikaka, MLA from Laxmipur in Orissa by Maoists

Saugata Roy | Constituency: DUM DUM

Saugata Roy is a veteran politician in West Bengal, who started his career with the Congress but eventually switched to the All India Trinamool Congress. From 1967 to 1969 he was General Secretary, West Bengal Chhatra Parishad (the student wing of the Congress party in the state) and from 1973 to 1977 he was General Secretary, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee.

In 1977, as a member of the Congress Party, Mitra was elected from Barrackpore to the Lok Sabha. In 2009 again, he became an elected MP on a Trinamool ticket.

Roy was the Union Minister of State for Petroleum in the Charan Singh Ministry that was in power from July 1979 to January 1980. He was the Union Minister of State for Urban Development in the UPA Ministry from 2009 to 2012 and has been elected to the West Bengal State Legislative Assembly five times.

In the 2009 elections, Roy defeated Amitava Nandi of the CPI(M) by a margin of 20478 votes.

Controversies during his tenure: In March 2013, Saugata Roy quit as Adviser to Chief Minister (Commerce and Industries) over differences with Mamata Banerjee as well as state Commerce and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee, over the government's new industrial policy.

Roy had submitted a draft of the industrial policy to the state government in which he had laid emphasis on the government's role in acquiring land for big industries — a stance reportedly opposed strongly by Banerjee.

Issues he has taken up: Roy has participated in many debates in Parliament.Economic development has been his top priority followed by social development. When news of the treatment meted by the USA to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade erupted, he was one of the first to raise it in parliament.

Kabir Suman | Constituency: JADAVPUR

A singer, who rose to instant stardom with his Bengali album Tomake Chai in 1992, Suman has been crusading for the downtrodden through his music and writing. An idealist, who professedly believes in changing the world, Suman became a Lok Sabha MP after he joined the Trinamool Congress and contested the 2009 elections.

In 2009, Kabir Suman defeated Sujan Chakraborty, CPI(M) by 54,000 votes. However, relations between him and his party have soured since, and he has announced many times that he would resign from his post.

While Suman has not yet resigned from the party, it has been reported that he will not contest the Lok Sabha elections this year. He will be replaced by Sugata Bose, grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and a professor at Harvard University, who will contest from the Jadavpur constituency.

Controversies during tenure: Suman has been a thorn in the Trinamool party fabric since the time that he has been voted into office. He has done everything possible to go against the party policy. He continued composing songs in praise of the Maoists, against the brutal police firing in Magrahat, and raised his voice time and again against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The latter even hinted at his expulsion but refrained from doing so after other senior intellectuals in the party intervened.

While the party wanted to decide how he was supposed to spend the MPLADS fund allocated to him, Suman asserted that as an MP he had the right to take independent decisions. He also alleged that party workers were misappropriating MPLADS funds.   

Issues he has taken up: In the threedebates that Suman attendedinthe parliament, he has taken up people’s issues and local problems such as challenges faced by LIC agents, the downside of establishing a nuclear power plant in Haripur, WB and better facilities for mentally challenged children.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay | Constituency: KOLKATA UTTAR (North)

Sudip Bandyopadhyay joined politics in the 1980s. He has been a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly for four terms and Member of Parliament for three terms. He is now the Union Minister of State of Health and Family Welfare and also the Leader, Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party for the Lok Sabha.

In 2009, Bandyopadhyay defeated Mohammed Salim of the CPI (M)by a margin of 109278 votes.

Controversies during tenure: In 2010, Bandyopadhyay was the target of attack for his use of unsavoury language as he launched a verbal assault against CPM member Basudeb Acharia. The Speaker termed his behaviour unbecoming, handing out a reprimand for an MP for the first time in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Issues he has taken up:Sudip Bandyopadhyay has taken up a wide range of issues in the parliament, some of the recent being the Justice Ganguly case, the Land Acquisition Bill and intrusions into Indian territory by China.

Assets & participation: A quick comparison

Member of Parliament



No of Debates

Questions asked

Dinesh Trivedi
Age: 64
Educational Qualification: B. Com, M.B.A.
Educated at St. Xavier`s College, Calcutta University and University of Texas, USA

Rs 2,72,03,930

77 per cent



Subrata Bakshi
Age: 64
Educational Qualification: B.Sc., LL.B.
Educated at Ashutosh College, Calcutta University, Kolkata

Rs 69,21,371
(Liabilities -
Rs 35,636)

32 per cent



Saugata Roy
Age: 66
Educational Qualification: M.Sc., LL.B. 
Educated at Science College, University of Calcutta and Jogesh Chandra Law College and Presidency College, Kolkata, West Bengal

Rs 39,71,405

95 per cent



Kabir Suman
Age: 64
Educational Qualification: B.A. (Hons.) English Literature
Educated at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, West Bengal

Rs 32,06,685




Sudip Bandopadhyay
Age: 62
Educational Qualification:
B.Sc, Educated at K.N. College, Berhampore, West Bengal

Rs 41,87,479
(Liabilities -
Rs 1,96,283)




* Assets/Liabilities figures are as disclosed in the affidavit filed for the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections

** National Average: 76 per cent;   State Average: 72 per cent

MPLADS Funds Utilization

The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) comes under the aegis of The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Division. The latter ensures that each MP properly uses the funds allocated to him under MPLADS.

Under the scheme each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector works to be done in their constituencies, entailing a cost up to Rs 5 crore. Apart from the elected Lok Sabha members, the Rajya Sabha MPs can also avail this scheme.

According to a report published by MPLADS of funds movement in 2010-11, in West Bengal maximum amount of fund was spent on education (30 per cent). Funds were also allocated for development work like drinking water facilities, electricity, health, family, irrigation, non conventional energy and other public facilities, roads bridges, sanitation, sports and animal care.

For a detailed account of works taken up by each of the sitting MPs till date, click the respective links below.

Dinesh Trivedi | Subrata Bakshi | Saugata Roy | Kabir Suman | Sudip Bandyopadhyay