How MPs Force VIP Treatment: NDTV Accesses Complaints to Parliament Panel

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New Delhi: 

Aam Aadmi might be a hot trend, but some parliamentarians are clinging hard to their "khaas aadmi" status. Some very upset lawmakers have complained to a Parliament panel about slights that they have had to endure, among them an MP who complains that his phone calls were ignored by a senior official.

Shiv Sena MP Sadashiv Lokande complained in January that the Chairman and Managing Director of public sector oil company HPCL Or Hindustan Petrochemical Limited had ignored his phone calls. After the complaint was forwarded to the panel, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was asked for an explanation.

The ministry was reminded yesterday that it was yet to explain.

NDTV has accessed the list of complaints that MPs have registered with the panel that looks into what they call "violation of Protocol Norms and Contemptuous Behaviour of Government Officers with Members of Lok Sabha.'' The confidential list records the heightened sense of hurt of various Parliamentarians.

There are at least 13 complaints pending with the panel, which is headed by TDP lawmaker Sambasiva Rao.

The Ministry of Petroleum was sent another reminder on Monday on a complaint by the BJP's Sharad Tripati. Mr Tripathi put in two complaints because the ministry did not bother to invite him for the inauguration of an LPG plant in Gorakhpur. According to protocol that has been decided by the panel and circulated by DoPT, all MPs should be invited to events in their areas.

The two MPs were not available for comment, but a member of the privileges committee Jagdambika Pal told NDTV, "MPs are answerable to their constituents so if they ask a question, the public wants answers and so that's why they should get responses too."

The need for such a Parliament panel, set up only three years ago, shows that lawmakers are not ready yet to make the transition from khaas aadmi (VIPs) to aam aadmi (common man).

Ever since NDTV began the #NoVIP campaign, there has been an outpouring of support from the public. But ministers have ready explanations for why they need to use facilities like VIP lounges. "I use the VIP lounge," said minister Prakash Javadekar, "It is easy because I carry lots of files and they have a massage chair in it, so I sit there and am able to do my work. But when security offers to let me go first, I say no because plane will leave at the same time for everyone."

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation sent a reminder to all airlines that MPs should be escorted throughout the airport, should get lounge facilities and then also get priority offloading of baggage on arrival.

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