New Delhi: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs seem to have taken the Parliament more seriously in the ongoing 17th Lok Sabha than the opposition, including Congress, which is duty-bound to question government policies and check legislation.
Out of the 26 MPs who recorded 100 per cent attendance in the Lok Sabha between June 2019 and September 2020, according to PRS Legislative Research data compiled by ThePrint, 21 belonged to the BJP, which has 303 MPs in the Lower House.
Among them are Basti MP Jagdambika Pal and Godda MP Nishikant Dubey, as well as 13 first-time MPs, who are mostly from Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress, which has 52 MPs in the House, has only two MPs with full attendance — Abdul Khaleque from Barpeta in Assam and K. Muraleedharan from Kerala.
The other MPs with 100 per cent attendance belong to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (two) and the Janata Dal-United (one).
While the party average was not immediately available for this period, the trend seems to be repeating the trend from the last Lok Sabha.
Between 2014 and 2019, BJP MPs’ attendance in the 16th Lok Sabha was 86 per cent on average. The Congress MPs recorded 75 per cent attendance. The Trinamool Congress (TMC), which saw attendance of only 65 per cent, was among the worst performers.
In the ongoing Lok Sabha, the party has continued its poor run, with Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, showing only 14 per cent attendance — among the worst performers in the House.
Even ex-Congress chief and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi’s attendance was only 56 per cent — a slight improvement from 52 per cent in the last Lok Sabha.
Since it is not mandatory for the prime minister and the council of ministers to sign a register, their attendance could not be ascertained.
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Opposition is not serious enough, say analysts
While Rahul Gandhi has attacked the Narendra Modi government on issues ranging from farm laws to the border crisis, he didn’t attend nearly half of the House sittings. He participated in only two debates and asked 50 questions.
Abhishek Banerjee, who is an MP from Diamond Harbour, participated in only two debates and asked just one question. His TMC colleague and Ghatak MP Adhikari Dev also had only 14 per cent attendance.
The MP with the least attendance was Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ghosi parliamentarian, Atul Kumar Singh, who came to the House in 3 per cent of all sittings. He is in jail on rape charges, and is facing a case of hiding his criminal case in his election affidavit.
However, the oldest Lok Sabha MP, Shafiqur Rahman Bara, who is 90 years old and won on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket from Sambhal, had a remarkable 99 per cent attendance while 81-year-old SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had a better attendance record of 63 per cent than his son Akhilesh Yadav, who has 34 per cent.
Speaking to ThePrint, Bara said, “I came into politics with Choudhary Charan Singh. I was elected in assembly from Charan Singh’s party Bhartiya Kranti Dal in 1974, served as minister in Mulayam Singh government but despite age it is my duty to attend Parliament. People select us to raise issues and make policy in the Parliament. If I will not attend, it will be an insult to the people who elected me.”
But he defended Akhilesh Yadav’s low participation. “He is busy in assembly preparation so he needs to be present in the state,” he said.
Of the 24 MPs with less than 50 per cent attendance, which is below the national average of 70 per cent, four are from TMC and BJP each. Prominent names among them are Sunny Deol (BJP, 31 per cent) and Udayan Raj Bhonsale (BJP, 16 per cent).
Speaking about the opposition’s performance, academic Shamika Ravi told ThePrint, “It is the duty of the opposition to question the government in Lok Sabha but it is ironical that the treasury bench has more seriousness than opposition whose main duty is to check and question the government. These trends show how serious the principal opposition party is.”
Trilochan Shastry of Association for Democratic Reforms said, “An MP’s work is to legislate policy but when he doesn’t attend parliament neither he is doing justice to his people nor the country. Every time we see there is a shortage of minimum attendance and the government passes the bill in din. How can you question the government ‘s wrongdoing and ignoring the opposition viewpoint?”
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Supriya Sule most inquisitive MP, again
Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule, who is party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter and MP from Baramati in Maharashtra, is the most inquisitive member in the House.
Between June 2019 and September 2020, she asked 286 questions and participated in 122 debates. She had also topped in the 16th Lok Sabha, with 1,184 questions in the five-year tenure during 2014-19.
The second most inquisitive MP this time is also from Maharashtra — Subhas Bhamre from the BJP who asked 277 questions.
Out of the ten most inquisitive MPs, five belonged to Maharashtra. In the last Lok Sabha too, out of 10 MPs, eight most curious MPs were from the western state.
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A good read on Women’s Day – NCP Supriya Sule being the most inquisitive member in the House!
I take strong offence to the author making mockery of Rahul Gandhi’s attendance record in Parliament. 56% is 4% more than last year and well above the school passing mark of 40%. Please also note that 56% is more than what he has ever got in any vocation, whether it being education, sports, books he has read ( pls note reading more than 40% of the cover page does count), comprehensibility of his speeches and track record as Congress president. The author has been very selective and fails to point out Rahul’s 100% track record of taking regular holidays and his ability to go AWOL at critical junctures in politics. We expect better from the print!
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