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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

BJP MPs denied foreign junket, sent to work

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 16, 2014
First Published: 18:46 IST(16/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:06 IST(16/7/2014)

It may have enough strength and support to pass bills and counter a beleaguered Opposition, but the NDA leadership wants to ensure its MPs do not fly away when Parliament is in session.

 Last week, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu turned down the request of five BJP MPs for foreign junkets. They were told bluntly that while the session is on, they are expected to remain present in Delhi.

Anurag Thakur, Sanjay Jaiswal, Kamlesh Paswan Tarun Vijay and Ashwani Kumar of the BJP had initially informed the parliament secretariat about their plan to fly abroad. While some were headed to China, one MP planned to go to Washington and another one was visiting Europe.
 
"All of them were going on invitations from organisations like bilateral friendship forums or attending seminars," said a Lok Sabha official.
 
Naidu also reportedly cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to defer his Japan tour in the wake of the budget session. Although the PM is currently in Brazil to attend the all-important BRICS summit he politely turned down an invitation to watch the World Cup final two days before the summit.

Although the ruling NDA has more than 300 MPs as against the half-way mark of 272 in Lok Sabha, it is still not taking chances. In Rajya Sabha the government is in a minority but has found support from parties like AIADMK, Trinamool, BSP and BJD.
 
The BJP's decision not to allow its MPs travel abroad on junkets during Parliament session comes in stark contrast to the UPA regime when many members went on foreign tours even as the UPA struggled to tackle an aggressive Opposition in both Houses.
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too, was often accused by his political opponents of visiting foreign countries frequently during Parliament sessions. The Congress, however, had pointed out that the PM travelled only when it was absolutely necessary.
 
For the vote over FDI in multi-brand retail in Rajya Sabha, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to personally call some MPs like Vijay Mallya to fly down from abroad and vote in favour of the policy.


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