Congress president Sonia Gandhi has come down heavily on party MPs for playing truant from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Her directive that members attend parliamentary proceedings came during her meeting with party whips and two-dozen odd convenors, the pointspersons for party MPs from their respective states. These leaders are supposed to help the government in rallying MPs to the House.
Besides interacting with the convenors, Sonia also conferred separately with senior leaders Pranab Mukherjee on the Congress representation in the standing committees; with A. K. Antony on the political situation in Maharashtra and with her political secretary Ahmed Patel on the Gujarat situation.
But in her meeting with convenors and whips, she emphasized the importance of attending Parliament proceedings. More so because cut motions are expected when the Lok Sabha guillotines the demands for grants on July 23 and votes on the Finance Bill on July 27.
With attendance particularly thin post-lunch, a member quoted her as saying: “If you can be present in the morning why can’t you be there in the afternoon also?’’
Wednesday’s meeting was organized by Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal who set the ball rolling by flagging the issue of thin attendance. Mukherjee wondered why out of the 365 days in a year, MPs could not sit in the House for 100 days.
Poor attendance came into focus recently when only 54 members, including 25 from the UPA, were present when the Rajya Sabha took up the Right to Education bill. It was a similar situation in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the demands for grants for agriculture.