- PM Modi expresses displeasure at lack of attendance by MPs in Rajya Sabha
- Work in the upper house, where government doesn't have majority, stalled
- PM warns ruling party MPs that he wouldn't tolerate their absence again
PM Modi - who has underlined the importance of party MPs being present in parliament through the day on several occasions - told lawmakers that he would not tolerate their absence again.
The immediate provocation for PM Modi ticking off the BJP lawmakers was the Rajya Sabha's inability to take up a discussion on a bill on maritime law on Friday evening. And this, after the government had persuaded the opposition earlier in the day to discuss legislations for an hour after 5 pm.
But when the bill was taken up, the Congress pointed to the lack of quorum - or minimum attendance for the House to take any up business. When there aren't enough members in the house - 10 per cent of the strength of the House is the minimum - a quorum bell sounds an alert for three-and-a-half minutes and proceedings are halted until more lawmakers arrive. If they don't, the proceedings have to be adjourned.
When the government wondered where the opposition members had suddenly disappeared, the Congress' Jairam Ramesh shot back: "It is not our responsibility to maintain quorum, but yours".
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and his junior Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had referred to recent instances in the Rajya Sabha where the government had to face embarrassment due to a lack of quorum. PM Modi is learnt to have said that he was "worried and not satisfied" with the members' percentage of presence in houses".
Since he took charge in 2014, PM Modi has often asked members to be regular in parliament, but this is the first time that the advice came in the form of a reprimand, say party leaders. During parliament's Budget session too, PM Modi warned BJP lawmakers that he had asked partymen not to miss a single day in parliament and warned that he could check on them. "I can call any of you anytime," he had said.
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