Amit Shah fumes over absenteeism among BJP MPs in Rajya Sabha: Party to seek written explanations

New Delhi: A red-faced BJP will seek written explanations from its Members of Parliament (MPs), including union ministers, whose absence from the Rajya Sabha despite a whip resulted in Opposition amendments getting passed, after party chief Amit Shah pulled them up on Tuesday, taking a "serious view" of the matter.

Shah made his displeasure amply clear at the BJP parliamentary party meeting where he said he does not want to "name and shame" them but warned against a repeat of such an embarrassing lapse.

A senior BJP leader said nearly 17 party MP, including ministers, were missing from the House when a united
opposition determinedly pushed for certain changes in the constitution amendment bill to set up a National Commission for Backward Classes with constitutional status.

File image of BJP chief Amit Shah. CNN-News18

File image of BJP chief Amit Shah. CNN-News18

The government suffered embarassment when the amendments were passed by 74 to 52 votes. The BJP's strength in the house is 56, while the ruling bloc enjoys the support of 88 members, including 10 JD(U) MPs.

"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 told reporters.

Shah said the OBC bill was an important legislation for the Modi government and lamented that it was stalled due to lack of numbers.

He asked MPs that they had been sent to Parliament to "deliver and perform", and their absence despite a whip was simply unacceptable.

Among the ministers not present in the House were Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan.

However, a party source insisted that some of the absentee members might have valid reasons for their absence.
"Everybody will be asked to explain. It is only after we receive their response that we will make an assesment," the source said.

The party leadership is especially perturbed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been repeatedly stressing, including at a similar meeting last week, on the need for the presence of MPs in Parliament during sessions.

Shah also told the MPs that several votes cast during the presidential poll turned out to be invalid and asked them to
ensure that they cast their votes properly during the vice-presidential election on 5 August. Modi did not attend the meeting as he was in Assam to review the flood crisis.

Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 07:18 AM

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