Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling all ministers to be present in Parliament in strength looks as if a school head master’s directive to the children and staff on attendance and in reality it has been biggest casualty and the step is in the right direction to make these elected representatives accountable and not just while away on tax payers money. Before the start of the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha last month, Modi had urged the Opposition not to bother about its numbers and instead participate wholeheartedly in the parliamentary proceedings. He had also asserted that every word spoken by the ‘Vipaksh’ (Opposition) was valuable to the government. However, his own ministers’ embarrassing absence from the House has prompted the PM to give them a well-deserved rap on the knuckles. Attendance in the House is a prerequisite for recording and gauging the performance of elected representatives, whether from the ruling party or the Opposition. There are various ways in which MPs can corner the government: posing queries to ministers during question hour, initiating debates or calling the attention of ministers to key issues. That makes it all the important for members of both benches to not only be present in the House, but also play their respective roles sincerely. There has also been a drop in the number of sitting days. The 16th Lok Sabha sat for 331 days, well below the average of 468 days; it lost 16 per cent of its scheduled time to disruptions, better than the 15th Lok Sabha (37 per cent), but worse than the 14th (13 per cent). With PM doing his bit to ensure productive sessions, the beleaguered Opposition should utilise the opportunity to raise issues of public and national interest and look for chinks in the armour of the majority elected ‘stable and strong’ government.
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