By Utpal Borpujari
MPs cutting across party lines might have aggressively joined hands to get their salaries hiked by over 300 per cent, but when it comes to their real work, their performance turns out to be very average at the best.
Be it attendance, asking questions or participating in debates, in all of their primary duties, many MPs fall much below their expected performance.
Take attendance: it is less than 20 per cent of Lok Sabha MPs who have an 80 per cent or above attendance record.
A large number of MPs, on the other hand, remained absent for 30-50 per cent of the times Parliament has had its sittings during the period between May 2009, when the 15th Lok Sabha got elected, and June 2010.
In the party-wise attendance record, the ruling Congress has a figure of 80 per cent during the period, while Opposition BJP cuts a sorry figure with its MPs together being present only 74 per cent of the total sitting days.
But even Congress does not shine that much in the attendance list, its position being a mere 12 in rankings, below CPI (95%, jointly the highest attendance with Kerala Congress-M), JD (U) (89%), CPI-M (87%), SP (86%) and RJD (85%).
TRS (8%) and JMM (5%), two parties that profess to represent regional aspirations at the Centre, are the worst off as far as attendance is concerned. The daily allowance of MPs for attending Parliament has just been doubled to Rs 2,000.
“We do not need to say that absence of MPs result in wastage of the country’s valuable time and money. But the absences impede the decision-making process and the debates,” says Neeraj Gupta, representative of Vote for India, an NGO that has analysed the performance data of the MPs from the Parliament website.
An analysis of state-wise MPs attendance data during the period shows that Karnataka is the worst-off among the larger states, notching just 67% in the attendance, while its neighbour Maharashtra has a figure of 74% attendance.
The analysis leaves out ministers and the Speaker since they do not need to sign the attendance register, even though it is a known fact that Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee too is among regular absentees.
At an individual level, seven MPs – six from Congress (A K Vundavalli from AP, Eknath Gaekwad from Maharashtra, K P Dhanapalan and P T Thomas from Kerala, Pradeep Tamta from Uttarakhand and Thokchom Meinya from Manipur) and one from CPI-M (M B Rajesh from Kerala) – have the highest attendance record of 86 per cent.
On the other hand, the dubious distinction of lowest attendance goes to JMM’s Kameshwar Baitha from Jharkahnd and BJP’s Baliram Kashyap from Chhattisgarh (2% each).
In asking questions too, the performance is just average, with about 20 per cent of the MPs never asking any and only 27 of the 545 MPs asking over 200 questions during the period. Just about 20 per cent in total have asked over 100 questions.
Similarly in debates, 14 % have never participated in any, while the performance of about 77 % is just about average, the analysis says.