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Apology, debate over missing MPs

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has inclined the attention of the House to news reports on the absence of members during the debate on the price rise.

delhi Updated: Apr 18, 2008 02:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

As soon as Speaker Somnath Chatterjee entered the Lok Sabha on Thursday, he drew the attention of the House to news reports on the absence of members during the debate on the price rise on Wednesday.

Sources close to the Speaker said that he was indirectly commenting as much on MPs as to media reports which had taken note of the thin attendance but not of the content of the speeches made or of the government’s response to the debate.

Their contention is that the number of members present does not diminish the value of the debate; but whosoever is present needs to participate actively.

Later in the day, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta and his colleagues CK Chandrappan and D Raja at a press conference tendered an unqualified apology on behalf of absent MPs.

He said that “such casual parliamentarianism and flippant attitude should not be condoned.’’ Dasgupta said that the absentee MPs belonged largely to the Treasury, the Opposition BJP and — in an oblique reference to the SP and the UNPA — to parties that had blocked proceedings on the issue on Tuesday.

“Most BJP leaders, including the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader as well as the Leader of the House or even the PM were not present. This makes a mockery of the parliamentary system," he said, claiming that the Left MPs were present for the debate.

Clearly, attendance has always been a matter of debate, with a section maintaining that it is not necessary for all MPs to be present in the House at all times, Dasgupta said.