‘How would you feel if Amit Shah…’: PM Modi pulls up truant MPs at BJP meet
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday admonished party lawmakers who had been skipping Parliament sittings or its debates, delivering a clear message that the party was keeping a close watch on their attendance in parliament and its many panels.
PM Modi signaled at the meeting of the BJP parliamentary party that he was unhappy that many BJP Members of Parliament had been absenting themselves from the House during key discussions in the first few days of the Budget session.
“How would you feel if Amit Shah were to come to your rally and didn’t show up at the last moment,” he asked once. Then he turned, looked at some BJP MPs and repeated his question. And then again. “How would you feel… and you, how would you feel”.
Just minutes earlier, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi had urged members to be punctual and pointed out that there weren’t many BJP MPs in the House when Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the controversial triple talaq bill.
“How would you feel if you won by 2 lakh votes and realised your best friend didn’t vote for you?” he asked next. Someone mumbled that they would be disappointed.
“That is how I felt when I saw the number of people attending parliament,” PM Modi said.
PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had delivered a record majority for the BJP in the just-concluded national elections. The BJP has 303 seats in the Lok Sabha and the National Democratic Alliance that it leads, 352.
The intention of the sharp reminder by the PM was aimed at ensuring that the BJP lawmakers get in the habit of scrupulously attending parliament sittings right at the beginning of their innings.
Nearly half of the 542 MPs elected in the national elections, 268, are first-timer Lok Sabha MPs.
The problem of MPs skipping sittings is not unique to this Lok Sabha, or the BJP. In his first term too, PM Modi had to pull up lawmakers now and then for playing truant.
There had been occasions when sittings of parliament had to be deferred for want of quorum though the BJP had a clear majority.
At one parliamentary party meeting, PM Modi had warned lawmakers who aren’t punctual that their attendance would be taken into account when the party has to give out tickets to contest the national elections.
There is no word if this parameter was indeed applied for contesting tickets. But PM Modi told MPs at Tuesday’s meeting that he did take the attendance and contribution of MPs in parliament into account to decide who to induct into his council of ministers.
PM Modi said he had ranked all MPs on this parameter to identify who to induct. Those who figured high on this list stood a better chance of being picked, he said.