For Makardhwaj Pradhan, society is above politics
Even today, Makardhwaj Pradhan's daily routine includes meeting people, listening to their problems and striving to solve them.
SAMBALPUR: He is 98, but for Makardhwaj Pradhan age is just a number. The veteran politician, who is among the first MLAs of the State, continues to work with the same zeal for social service as he did when he set his foot into the State Assembly for the first time nearly 70 years back.
His life is dedicated to the people of Bhagamunda and the adjoining villages. Even today, his daily routine includes meeting people, listening to their problems and striving to solve them. He even extends financial help to the needy from his MLA pension of Rs 30,000 a month.
“I joined politics with the objective to help people. After serving as the MLA for one term, I realised I could continue to work for them without being in active politics,” he says.
Pradhan’s interest in politics developed during his college days in Ravenshaw University at Cuttack. Influenced by the ideology of the Socialist party, he decided to contest the Vidhan Sabha election in 1952 from the then Ambabhona-Mura constituency as an Independent. However, one of his known Socialist leaders offered him to contest from the party and he was elected as the MLA of the constituency under Chief Minister Nabakrushna Choudhury.
This was when construction of the Hirakud dam was underway. The Ambhabona-Mura village cluster was among the many areas to be submerged by the dam. He took up the cudgels on behalf of the affected populace and fought for their rehabilitation and resettlement. However, towards the end of his tenure, the dam was complete. He himself was also displaced and later settled at Bhagamunda village under Lakhanpur in Jharsuguda district.
During all these years, Pradhan has worked actively for the interest of the farmers and development of the village. While his mobility is restricted now due to the old-age problems, Pradhan said that he has two more dreams to fulfil - that of ensuring MSP for vegetable farmers in his area and developing Bhagamunda as a drought-free village.
On contemporary politics, Pradhan has expressed his disenchantment. “Politicians today are not concerned about the welfare of the people. Politics has become a commercial activity”, he said.
Age is just a number for 98-year-old Makardhwaj Pradhan - one of the first legislators of Odisha - as he has never ceased to work for the welfare of the people and uplift of the downtrodden, writes Mayank Bhusan Pani