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Mamata, Alagiri reluctant Delhiites

What do Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister M. K. Alagiri have in common? Both rank high on the list of ministers who remain absent from office. Srinand Jha examines...

india Updated: Sep 07, 2009 00:26 IST
Srinand Jha

What do Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister M. K. Alagiri have in common?

Both rank high on the list of ministers who remain absent from office.

Banerjee took charge as Union minister in Kolkata on May 26 and turned up at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi after about a week.

In June, she spent 21 days in West Bengal and nine days in the national capital. In August, she did one better: five days in New Delhi, and the remaining 26 days in West Bengal.

Banerjee was not in New Delhi for the first six days of September and is scheduled to enter Rail Bhawan for the first time in the month on September 12.

It is an open secret about Banerjee and her entourage of Trinamool Congress ministers: they spend two days a week in New Delhi and the remaining five in Kolkata.

Given his inadequate command of English and Hindi, and absence of friends, Alagiri too is a reluctant Delhiite and is ever willing to dash down to Madurai.

On average, Alagiri spends no more than ten days of a month in the national capital.

Across the years, however, on the scroll of truant ministers, Alagiri and Banerjee do have company.

In its first term, the UPA had A.R Antulay, who rarely attended office in his capacity as minority affairs minister.

Being a late riser, Shatrughan Sinha, a union minister during the NDA regime, was seldom present during the question hour in Parliament.

In his short stint as Prime Minister, H. D. Deve Gowda had been in the habit of rapidly flitting between New Delhi and Bangalore.

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