A day after question hour collapsed in the Lok Sabha (on Monday) owing to the absence of members who had put up questions, the Congress on Tuesday conveyed its displeasure over the unpleasant turn of events to its nine MPs who played truant.
Referring to their absence on Monday, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal sought to remind the MPs the importance of question hour in the hope that such negligence of parliamentary duty was not repeated. Besides Mr. Bansal’s letter, Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Paban Singh Ghatowar spoke to each of the nine MPs.
The double-pronged action from the party came after Congress president Sonia Gandhi took a grim view of the absence of members despite frequent reminders from the leadership to take Parliament seriously.
The nine Congress MPs in the dock for their absence are Shruti Choudhry, Madhu Goud Yakshi, Harsh Vardhan, Botcha Lakshmi Jhansi, Anto Antony, Eknath Gaikwad, Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Maadam, P.T. Thomas and Kodikunnel Suresh. Three of them — Ms. Choudhry, Mr. Antony and Mr. Thomas — are first-time MPs.
Mr. Suresh, in fact, is one of the State conveners that the Congress appointed in the last session to ensure the presence of members in the two Houses after thin attendance in the ruling benches became a cause of embarrassment. There have been instances — even when Bills are put to vote — when the Opposition outnumbered the ruling benches.
For its part, the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to play down the entire episode with deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, pointing out that only two of its members — Varun Gandhi and Anurag Thakur — had been absent. Neither was the matter discussed during the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday.
According to Ms. Swaraj, both could not turn up due to pressing engagements — Mr. Gandhi was busy in his constituency and Mr. Thakur was preparing for another discussion in the House. Further, she pointed out that the Lok Sabha has seldom been able to take up more than seven starred questions in a day as a result of which those listed further down in the list of starred questions do not turn up as soon as the House convenes.