PM seeks list of truant mantris who skipped House roster duty

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Times of India, July 17, 2019

PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday took strong view of ministers skipping roster duty in Parliament and sought details of the absentees by the evening while cautioning that truancy might have consequences.

“I know how to handle them,” a source quoted an upset PM as saying at the weekly meeting of BJP’s parliamentary party. Modi also said appraisal of ministers would take into account their engagement with Parliament.

“I have received phone calls even from some of the opposition party leaders about absence of the ministers. We rank ministers based on a broader criteria which includes attention to parliament duty,” he said.

“Give me the list of the absent ministers…I know how to handle them. Cognisance will be taken,” another attendee quoted Modi as telling parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. The warning was prompted by two ministers, one belonging to BJP and another representing an ally, not reporting for their roster duty.

This was the second time this month when Modi had used the platform of the parliamentary party to express annoyance with his colleagues staying away from Parliament. Earlier, he had expressed displeasure over MPs not attending the sessions. Besides, he had also said recently said that the members should take parliamentary committees seriously.

Absenteeism among its MPs had dogged BJP since Modi’s first stint as PM, causing embarrassment to government on many occasions. Thought the lawmakers swear by Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, they have not heeded the exhortation — a streak which has persisted through the opening spell of the new government.

“PM has reiterated that attendance is compulsory in the House and there is no exception to this,” Joshi said after the meeting. Joshi said Modi asked MPs to nurse their constituencies by playing a leading role in its development and advised them to take up a cause of human sensitivity like eradication of leprosy or tuberculosis and water conservation.

“First impression is often the last impression,” Modi told the MPs as he asked them to work passionately for the development of their areas.

Joshi said the PM also noted that India has fixed a deadline of 2025 for eradicating TB against the global deadline of 2030 and asked MPs to work for its removal. He referred to aspirational districts, an official term for underdeveloped districts, and asked them to coordinate with authorities to boost their progress.

Modi also said the ongoing session can be extended if it is necessary to pass the government’s legislative agenda.

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