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Amit Shah comes down heavily on absentee BJP MPs in Rajya Sabha: Parliamentary paralysis haunted 2016 Winter Session too

BJP president Amit Shah has expressed displeasure over the absence of party Members of the Parliament (MP) in RS on Monday. He is likely to demand an explanation from them as they have been absent from the Rajya Sabha despite a whip.

Party MPs told PTI that Shah made his displeasure clear at the BJP parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.

The government suffered an embarrassment in the Upper House when a united Opposition ensured the passage of amendments to a Constitution amendment bill on backward classes. The Opposition managed to pass The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, providing for setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes after dropping Clause 3, to which four amendments were approved by the House earlier.

The amendments were passed by 74 to 52 votes. The BJP's strength alone is 56 while the ruling block enjoys the support of 88 members, counting 10 JD(U) MPs.

Parliament building. PTI

Parliament building. PTI

"When the party issues a whip, members must be present in the House. The party president has taken a serious view of the absence of members. He said it should not have happened and must not be repeated," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said on Tuesday.

In the meeting, Shah wondered if the absentee MPs should be named, as the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have repeatedly underlined the need for their presence in Parliament.

In March, Modi had expressed concern over the lack of quorum in the Parliament, a day after the Rajya Sabha chairman had expressed unhappiness over absent members in the House.

Chairman Hamid Ansari had called it "an unusual situation" and said that it was "not a happy state of affairs" , CNN-News18 reported. Congress had also mocked the government, as MP Jairam Ramesh called it a case of "maximum ministers, minimum government and a shape of things to come."

How the Winter Session failed

This is not the first time that senior leaders have expressed concern over the way the Parliament has been functioning in the last one year. With absenteeism leaving the BJP in a fix, the ongoing Monsoon Session is following the footsteps of the 2016 Winter Session. While the issue then was not particularly about MPs giving the Session a miss, it was linked to the the behaviour of the members  that affected the work of Parliament.

In December 2016, Pranab Mukherjee had expressed his frustration over repeated disruptions in the Parliament. In an uncharacteristic outburst, the then president made some observations on the functioning of the House.

"For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God's sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance," Mukherjee had said.

Mukherjee also urged MPs to refrain from misusing their freedom in the Parliament, since the law protected them from getting arrested for what they said in the House.

The Winter Session, which began on 16 November, 2016, was a disappointment. Both Houses at the time, as this report stated, remained in session for less than a fifth of their scheduled time in the first three-and-a-half weeks. According to data from Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research, the Lok Sabha functioned for only 16 percent of the time, while MPs at the Rajya Sabha worked for 19 percent of the time.

For the two sessions in picture, the reasons for under-performance may be different. But be it absenteeism, or the regular uproar in Parliament, the constant ignorance of our law-makers is jeopardising the sane functioning of the Constitution. It is indeed a trend which the government needs to distance itself from.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2017 15:54 PM

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