New Delhi: Which political party asked the most questions on national security and defence in the past five years in the 16th Lok Sabha? Going by how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are relentlessly raising the issue of Balakot air strikes and national security in the general elections campaign, the answer may seem obvious. But the reality appears to be a bit skewed, and not in favour of the BJP.
The BJP manifesto has placed defence at the heart of its political strategy. The Congress, too, is playing catch-up by showering praise on the Indian military even as it sustains the corruption allegations campaign on the Rafale deal.
Based on ThePrint’s performance analysis of MPs in My543, here’s a list of 10 MPs who asked the most number of questions on defence and national security-related issues in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Contrary to what one might expect, it’s not the BJP or the Congress that dominates the list, but the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) with 5 MPs.
While the Congress party features with 2 MPs, the BJP, Shiv Sena and Apna Dal have one MP each on the list.
The questions considered for this list included a range of issues — from defence acquisitions and Rafale to the Naxal threat, terrorism, and welfare of defence and paramilitary personnel. The subjective classification of the questions wasn’t done solely on the basis of queries that were put to the defence ministry. It also included related queries to other ministries and departments as well.
Based on ThePrint’s classification, here are the MPs with the most questions on national security and defence:
Jyotiraditya Scindia (93): This prominent Congress MP, from Guna, asked the most number of questions related to national security — this included the threat of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and Indian Air Force’s advisory to its personnel on the usage of Chinese smartphones.
T.G. Venkatesh Babu (68): An AIADMK MP from Chennai North Constituency, Babu asked important questions related to welfare of forces ranging from the quality of food products in military canteens to air-conditioned vests for desert troops. He also asked if the government planned to construct a new aerospace museum in the country.
Kunwar Haribansh Singh (67): This Apna Dal MP from Pratapgarh considered protection of India’s land and maritime borders crucial. His questions ranged from usage of space technology for border management, infiltrations, and coastal security exercises to installation of laser fences and sensors at the India-Bangladesh border.
Balasubramaniam Senguttuvan (65): This AIADMK MP from Vellore stood out for asking some very specific questions related to subjects like manufacturing of high-nitrogen steel and joint hydrographic surveys with Tanzania.
Vijayakumar S.R. (63): The Chennai Central MP from AIADMK gave special attention to the welfare of retired servicemen, evident from his questions related to their skill development and an interactive web portal for them.
T. Radhakrishnan (56): This AIADMK MP from Virudhunagar, among other things, wanted India to strengthen its defence ties with Vietnam — the only one on this list to have inquired about the issue.
Ashok Chavan (56): The only other Congress leader on this list, the heavyweight from Nanded wanted to know if yoga was compulsory for Central Armed Police Forces.
Jayakumar Jayavardhan (54): Another AIADMK MP on this list, from Chennai South, Jayavardhan was particularly concerned about the technology-related well-being of soldiers. His questions included inquiries about provisions of snow scooters and gadgets to personnel and arrangements for power banks for them.
Shivaji Adhalrao Patil (53): A Shiv Sena MP from Shirur, Patil was the only one in this list to have inquired about India’s defence relationship with Portugal.