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Congress mulls ways to rein in truant MPs

Party miffed with 15 MPs who did not turn up in LS during voting on amendments to Prez address.

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2012 01:46 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times

MPs absenting themselves from Parliament on critical days, when the United Progress Alliance (UPA) government faces a vote, is turning out to be a major cause of concern for the Congress.

Despite a three-line whip from the party, around 14-15 MPs played truant on Monday, when the house took up voting on the opposition-sponsored amendments to the President’s address. The government managed to defeat the amendments with help from the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party.

The case was similar in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, when around seven Congress members absented themselves.

A three-line whip is a clear-cut directive from a political party to its members, seeking their presence in the house, and compliance with the party line, during a vote.

Violation of the whip could lead to the expulsion of a member from the house under the anti-defection law.

Congress floor managers have also expressed concern over the absence of party MPs during discussions on bills and other important issues. “Most of them prefer to chat in the central hall, instead of participating in serious discussions being taken up in the house,” a senior party functionary said.

However, the Congress is unlikely to take such an extreme step, given the fact that the UPA has only a wafer-thin majority in Lok Sabha, and its numbers are well below the half-way mark in Rajya Sabha.

This was not the first instance of the kind in Lok Sabha. As many as 13 party MPs had failed to show up in the winter session last year, when the Lok Sabha took up voting on a bill that could have granted the Lokpal constitutional status. The bill was defeated.

After the incident, an infuriated Congress president Sonia Gandhi had sought a list of absentee members. Even in the past, she had expressed

concern over the absence of party MPs and asked them to treat Parliament issues more seriously.

Besides seeking written explanations from absentee members, the Congress is now mulling tough measures to check the trend. According to a source, attendance in the house is likely to become one of the key factors for the re-nomination of a sitting member.

First Published: Mar 23, 2012 00:40 IST