Evaluation of attendance and work performance of the MPs
The performance of the Parliament and its members has been under scrutiny as the expectations from the public are on a rise. The low attendance record of some of the members of the Parliament and their lack of participation in the activities has been talked about.
As the media has turned on the heat on the dismal performance of some nominated MPs of the Rajya Sabha, I have done a quick compilation of the performance of some MPs in the Lok Sabha during the current Budget session. These are 10 MPs who were earlier careerists in the world of entertainment or sports. The data is from the official records for 21 days - i.e., 07 July to 06 August 2014 - Budget Session for which data is available on the Lok Sabha website.
Attendance Record of 'Star' MPs (lowest to highest):
1) Shri Deepak Adhikari Dev (film star) - AITMC MP - 1 out of 21 days (less than 10%)
2) Shri Tapas Paul, (film star) - AITMC MP - 1 out of 21 days (less than 10%) ( The Hindu reported that he did not attend any sitting)
3) Smt. Hema Malini (film star) - BJP MP - 2 out of 21 days (less than 10%) (not 14% as reported in The Hindu)
4) Shri Babul Supriyo, (singer) - BJP MP - 8 out of 21 days (38%)
5) Smt. Moon Moon Sen, (film star) - AITMC MP - 14 out of 21 days (66.6%)
6) Shri Bhagwant Mann, (TV star - comedian) - AAP MP - 14 out of 21 days (66.6%)
7) Shri Paresh Rawal, (film star) - BJP MP - 15 out of 21 days (71%)
8) Smt. Kirron Kher, (film star) - BJP MP - 19 out of 21 days (90%)
9) Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, (Sports star) - BJP MP - 19 out of 21 days (90%)
10) Shri Vinod Khanna, (film star) - BJP MP - 20 out of 21 days (95%)
Caveat: Please note that this data is based on the record displayed by the LS Secretariat stating the number of days on which each MP had signed the attendance register. There is every likelihood that some MPs may have attended the House's sittings but forgot to sign the register. However a claim for daily allowance is allowed only if the MP signs the attendance register.
Performance in the House:
Shri Bhagwant Mann of Aam Aadmi Party was the only MP from the above list who successfully raised any question at all in the Lok Sabha during the current session. He raised four questions - one on his own and three in collaboration with other MPs. On his own Shri Mann raised a query about fitting GPS devices in public transport vehicles. In collaboration with other MPs he sought information about cases pertaining to clinical trial of drugs and their harmful effects on human beings and the number of cases investigated and where compensation was awarded during the last 3 years. This led to an elaborate reply wit statistics being presented by the Minister concerned. Another question about the number of cases during the last three years relating to smuggling of drugs and number of cases registered. This also resulted in an elaborate reply being tabled in the House. The fourth question was about investigation of entities alleged to have stashed away black money abroad and the ToRs of the SIT. This also resulted in a substantial reply from the Ministry.
None of the other MPs listed above are shown as having raised questions that were replied in the House.
Smt. Kirron Kher participated in the debate on the rising atrocities on women and children this week.
Caveat: Just because a question was not replied to in the House does not mean that an MP did not raise any query at all. As questions are selected through a draw of lots, a large number of queries are simply not selected for answering in the House. We have also not looked into the data about issues raised by MPs during Zero Hour.
Attendance Record of 20 prominent MPs (no particular criteria except their prominent positions in their parties or their being in the news very recently):
1) Shri L K Advani - BJP MP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
2) Maj. Gen (retd.) B C Khanduri - INC MP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
3) Shri Kiren Rijiju - BJP MP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
4) Smt. Supriya Sule - NCP MP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
5) Smt. Poonam Mahajan - BJP MP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
6) Shri Kirti Azad - BJP MMP - 21 out of 21 days (100%)
7) Shri Mallikarjun Kharge - INC MP - 20 out of 21 days (95%)
8) Dr. M. Thambidurai - AIADMK MP - 20 out of 21 days (95%)
9) Shri Rajan Vichare - Shiv Sena MP - 20 out of 21 days (95%) - (of chapati force-feeding fame)
10) Smt. Sonia Gandhi - INC MP - 19 out of 21 days (90%)
11) Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav - SP MP - 18 out of 21 days (85%)
12) Shri Rahul Gandhi - INC MP - 16 out of 21 days (76%)
13) Shri Shashi Tharoor - INC MP - 16 out of 21 days (76%)
14) Shri Feroze Varun Gandhi - BJP MP - 14 out of 21 days (66.6%)
15) Shri Neiphiu Rio - NPF MP (ex-CM, Nagaland)- 12 out of 21 days (57%)
16) Ms. Mehbooba Mufti - J&K PDP MP - 10 out of 21 days (48%)
17) Capt. Amarinder Singh - INC MP - 5 out of 21 days (24%)
18) Smt. Dimple Yadav - SP MP - 5 out of 21 days (24%)
19) Shri Shibu Soren - JMM MP - 1 out of 21 days (less than 10%)
20) Shri Ram Vilas Paswan - LJP MP - 1 out of 21 days (less than 10%)
Caveat: As a practice, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Speaker and Leader of the Opposition need not sign the attendance register without inviting any legal consequences. Nevertheless Minister of State, Shri Kiren Rijiju religiously attended all days of Parliament and signed the attendance register also.
Mere signing of the attendance register also does not mean that the MP was present in the House throughout a day's sitting. The Secretariats of both Houses had started the practice of maintaining hourly attendance of MPs through the Lobby Officer several decades ago. However this practice has fallen into disuse recently, and such data is not being made public. If the hourly attendance chart showing the maximum and minimum number of MPs present in the House every hour is shown, then voters will be able to hold their elected representatives to task for prolonged absence from a day's sitting of the House despite signing the attendance register that day. This is particularly important because past experience has shown that a substantial number of the seats in both Houses remain vacant when issues of widespread public importance are discussed. A clamour was raised recently in the media about the sparse attendance in the Lok Sabha when the issue of atrocities on women and children was taken up for discussion.
However, a majority of the women MPs in the Lok Sabha have a high attendance record. Perhaps this fact must be used to demand greater representation of citizens by women in Parliament.
While some of the star MPs who were nominated to the Rajya Sabha have been castigated roundly in the media for their failure to attend the business of the House, the case of the missing Lok Sabha MPs deserves more serious attention. Unlike the nominated MPs they contested an election and campaigned for people's votes and pledged to serve and protect their interests. So their dismal performance deserves greater public debate than that of the nominated MPs who probably got the seat offered to them on a platter. Of course, nobody is stating that celebrities should not contest elections. They have the same right like every other eligible citizen to contest elections. However, once elected, they must make sure they discharge their duties effectively. It is quite possible that some of the missing MPs may have been indisposed. Nevertheless they owe an explanation to the electors of their constituency- why they have stayed away from Parliament for so long. This can be done through statements to the press or through dedicated blogs and websites, so that people know why they are not attending business in Parliament.
The attendance results published online on the Lok Sabha website at the link :- http://22.214.171.124/members_attendance16/