Shaking off first-time jitters and eager to dive into political debates, debutant MPs are taking an active part in the 16th Lok Sabha and are making their presence felt.
When the Parliament sat down to discuss the Modi government’s rail budget, 27 of the 45 members who took part in the debate on the first day were freshers. Next day, 33 of the 44 MPs discussing the budget were first timers.
The trend continued into the first week of the ongoing budget session — 36 of the 97 MPs who spoke up were new faces. By the second week, participation of veterans was eclipsed by the freshers. And they are just picking up steam.
“This is like just the beginning of a Test match and we have not even reached the lunch break,” BJP’s Jayant Sinha tells HT, “but the atmosphere is excellent. I find my party very open about our participation.”
The numbers are certainly on their side. Of the 543 MPs in the new House, 315 (or 58%) are new faces. The Parliament hasn’t seen so many new faces at one time since the post-Emergency 1977 election when 376 debutants entered the hallowed halls.
And their participation has already left a mark. A study by the PRS Legislative research indicated that the new Lok Sabha was already showing early signs of good performance. “In the first week, Lok Sabha was productive for 62% of the time, while Rajya Sabha was productive for 66% of the time,” the study said.
In the second week, the Lower House pulled in 43% extra time while the Upper House was productive for 63% of the total time. This is in stark contrast to the last Lok Sabha, which went down in the history as the worst-performer.
“The newcomers feel that they too, have to do something. They have eagerness, political involvement and high sense of responsibility,” said BJP’s Poonam Mahajan who represents Mumbai (North-Central) constituency.
The infusion of fresh blood has certainly lent a new vigour to House proceedings. “I was sitting next to a third-time MP who observed that he has not seen such attendance and active participation in last many years,” says Poonam.
Most of the participating first-timers are, expectedly, from the BJP-led NDA that has the most new faces. But in other parties too, the newcomers are creeping into the seniors’ space.
Trinamool Congress’ first speech in the new Lok Sabha was delivered by one of its fresh faces, Sugata Bose. “There is a tremendous scope for the new MPs to show their worth and participate in this task of nation-building,” said Bose, a Harvard professor and relative of Subhas Chandra Bose.