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Odisha MP Baijayant Panda didn't demand any VIP treatment from the airline: An eye witness account
On January 31, 2014 I was returning from Delhi to Bhubaneswar via an Indigo flight No. 6E-259. At the Delhi airport, I found Biju Janata Dal MP from Odisha's Kendrapara constituency Baijayant Panda. By that time my column titled ‘MPs are no super citizens, needs to be treated at par with common man’ had already been published on this platform. Thus I was alert at that moment and determined to oppose, had he received or accorded any royal treatment!

Before going ahead with the story let me briefly tell few things about Baijayant Panda. Mr. Panda is an industrialist and own IMFA group of Industries in Odisha. He also owned a helicopter. He was earlier a Rajya Sabha Member but decided to be direct public representative and contested Lok Sabha election in 2009 from Kendrapara against very strong Congress candidate Ranjib Biswal (present IPL commissioner) and won by a large margin. His wife is MD of Ortel Communication that includes a news channel!

Thus he was a right candidate at the airport to register a citizen protest particularly on current subject of ‘MPs seeking royal treatment from airlines as a special privilege!’ However I saw him carrying his baggage alone, standing in the queue for frisking and no way presenting himself as any kind of VIP! The Kalinga Lancers (Hockey India League team for Odisha) too were travelling in that Indigo plane and I can guarantee that none of them knew a MP is travelling in that plane!

I thought that may be at Delhi airport Panda is showing off! I often come to know through print and electronic media (in fact OTV news is the only local effective media and that too owned by Panda’s wife!) that Panda rides motor-cycle and cycles, walks kilometers to reach villages in his constituency and many other such news.

I always think that these are symbolisms and tokenisms for interest of electoral benefit or self branding. Therefore I thought that at Delhi he is doing some tokenism but definitely there would be a red carpet welcome at Bhubaneswar airport!

After deboarding at the Bhubaneswar airport I kept following him. I saw that he was greeted only by one of his relative/worker. He simply asked, ‘Is there any transport available or?’ indirectly he was asking to take a taxi. The person with him said that Panda's car was there and he immediately proceeded to his transport.

I was at cross road! I was hell bent to expose this industrialist MP, expecting him to do at least   one mistake by demanding luxury. But he just like any commoner simply carried his baggage and got in to his privet car! I thought this was unfortunate for me not to get a chance to protest against a public representative. But immediately I realized my responsibility.

If we criticise our representatives for their mistakes, we need to appreciate their good works also. Thus I went near to his car and knocked. He lowered his window glass. I extended my hand for a shake! He was confused yet extended his hand. I just said ‘You are not among those MPs who seek royal treatment from airlines! I am proud of it!’ He perhaps realised the message and immediately responded that ‘I don’t believe in these’ (royal treatment for MPs).

I then tweeted “@Panda_Jay Thank you, you r not among those MPs who seek royal treatment from airlines as special privilege! We are proud of you!’

After some time Panda replied to my tweet adding that ‘Thanks, was nice meet you @ airport!’

Thus it can be concluded that not all MPs behave in VIP manner! It’s only some dirty fishes that make our democratic pool dirtier! Isn’t a billionaire MP (Baijayanta Panda) passed a public scrutiny without being fore warned? That means our democracy has much power and strength that produces even Panda like Member of Parliament! With Public asserting and awakening I think the future of our democracy is even brighter!

However I feel MPs like Panda should take on those MPs who defend such privileges belittling democratic norms! Mr. Panda may feel that as public and master of this democracy, I am asking bit more, but in an awaken democracy this must be considered as simple demand!

However I can say in all responsibility that the couple of hours journey from Delhi to Bhubaneswar would always remain as a remarkable memory in my life where I wanted to scrutinise my representative and he came out with flying colors!

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