Bengali filmstar and TMC’s Dev has the poorest attendance in 16th Lok Sabha
Dev or Deepak Adhikari, Bengali film-superstar-turned-Trinamool-Congress-lawmaker from Ghatal constituency, spoke only twice and for a total of 190 seconds in the 37 days during which he was present in the Lok Sabha that sat for 331 days during its term.
Dev’s 11% attendance is the lowest among the 544 members of Parliament and is equal to Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig’s. But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader participated in three debates and asked 19 questions, while the Trinamool MP took part in two debates and has only three questions.
The national average for attendance in the 16th Lok Sabha is 80%, while the average attendance from MPs from West Bengal stands at 65%. Among the parties that had more than ten MPs, Trinamool had the poorest attendance at 65%.
During the term of the 16th Lok Sabha, Dev spoke twice. In 2016, he spoke for the first time for about 150 seconds, pitching for speedy implementation of Ghatal masterplan that was conceived nearly seven decades ago but has not been implemented yet.
He spoke mostly in Bengali – something rare for MPs from this state – and switched to English for a couple of sentences. The video clip of his speech uploaded from the party’s official YouTube channel had over 1.6 million views.
The next time he opened his mouth, Dev emphasised on the need of a rail overbridge in his constituency in about 40 seconds. This time too, he spoke in Bengali.
Dev’s poor attendance is also matched by his poor expenditure records -- he could utilise only 70% of his five-yearly MPLAD (Members of Parliament Local Area Development scheme) allotment. Of the ₹25 crore, he managed to spend only ₹18 crore.
The MP said that funds were allotted for Ghatal masterplan following his speech but those have not reached the district administration yet.
Seeking re-election from the same constituency, Dev is aware of the odds against him.
His principal opponent, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Bharati Ghosh, has been raising the issue of his poor attendance in Parliament at almost every public gathering she is addressing.
“He wasn’t present in Parliament for even five days. How would the people in Parliament know about the issues of the area if the MP does not speak on the floor of the House? And what is the point in speaking in Parliament in Bengali, which people from other states will not understand,” Ghosh said on March 27 during her campaign in West Midnapore district.
Dev responded the very next day from one of his campaign rallies.
“I know my attendance in Parliament was poor. But I made a strong pitch for Ghatal masterplan (for flood control) in Parliament. My attendance in the House may be only 11%, but my presence among the people of Ghatal has been 100%,” Dev said last week while addressing a crowd at Keshpur in his constituency.
Last week, responding to Bharati Ghosh’s jibe that “Parliament is not a place to deliver speeches in Bengali”, Dev said, “I am proud that I spoke in Bengali. Once re-elected, I will speak in Parliament in Bengali again.”
Dev disclosed a total asset of ₹12.44 crore before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.