Prime Minister Narendra Modi is upset with BJP lawmakers skipping Parliament sittings, sometimes causing embarrassment to the treasury benches.
The BJP with 282 parliamentarians has absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, but there have been instances of sessions being deferred for want of quorum. At least 10% of the House strength should be present to conduct proceedings.
“Attending Parliament is your basic responsibility … I cannot be present on your behalf,” Modi said at the weekly meeting of the BJP parliamentary party on Tuesday.
His remarks followed parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar’s reference to incidents and problems arising out of lack of quorum.
“I can call any of you any time,” Modi said, reprising that MPs should not be requested to perform their basic responsibility of attending Parliament sessions.
“It is important that you are present in the House.”
Parliamentarians are required to mark their attendance in Parliament, a task the Prime Minister is exempted from. MPs get allowances to attend Parliament during sessions, but attendance is largely thin during post-lunch sittings.
Kumar and his predecessor M Venkaiah Naidu have repeatedly asked BJP MPs to attend proceedings, but it hasn’t cut much ice.
Modi’s tough talk on Tuesday was his first detailed intervention as he advised party MPs not to have other engagements during the Parliament sessions.
He recalled remarks of an RSS functionary that the Hindutva organisation had spread far and wide, and its members had a lot of work to do, but did not have time to attend the shakha.
Likewise, MPs too seemed to have so much of work that they do not have time to attend Parliament, which should not be the case, Modi said.
He informed the MPs about a proposed nationwide campaign to make party leaders, including state legislators and office-bearers, well-informed about the goods and services tax (GST) that is expected to be introduced this June.
These leaders will broadcast the information to the people.
The GST is showcased as a path-breaking initiative of the Modi government for a “one nation, one tax” regime, which is expected to promote business by doing away with multiplicity of taxation.