Chemicals minister MK Alagiri and former railways minister Mamata Banerjee have topped the list of absentee ministers for the second consecutive year, according to records of cabinet meetings during the past year.
The records for the period between March 31 last year and this year provided under the RTI, reveal that Alagiri and Banerjee attended only seven meetings each of the total 48, putting their presence at a dismal 15%.
In sharp contrast the attendance record of UPA’s top leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and defence minister AK Antony is a remarkable 100%, closely followed by home minister P Chidambaram at 94 %.
Both Alagiri and Banerjee also had the dubious distinction of having attended the least number of cabinet meetings during 2009-10, according to the records provided by the Cabinet Secretariat to RTI activist, Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
Apart from these two, the attendance records of cabinet ministers also show that the ministers, not those in the Congress, seem to have taken the cabinet meetings lightly.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah attended only 43 % meetings.
Former telecom minister A Raja attended only 50 % of the cabinet meetings last year before he quit on November 14 last following his indictment in the 2G spectrum scam.
His DMK colleague in the cabinet, textiles Dayanidhi Maran’s attendance record stands at 60 %. The only non-Congress minister who recorded a decent attendance at cabinet meetings is NCP chief Sharad Pawar, whose attendance record is 66 %.
The only Congress minister with less than 50 % presence in cabinet meetings is foreign minister SM Krishna, whose job requires frequent travelling.
At least six Congress ministers — Virbhadra Singh, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni — have attended more than 90% of the meetings.
On an average, the attendance record of Congress ministers is around 70%.