Late one evening, last week, as RSP MP NK Premachandran left the Lok Sabha after the passage of the Goods and Services Tax bill, to which he had moved 12 amendments, he came face to face with finance minister Arun Jaitley in the lobby.
“He told me not to get discouraged because my amendments had not been accepted by the government. That was custom and convention. What you are doing is excellent work and you are one of the best members of the House, he said to me,” Premachandran said recalling the meeting.
The lone MP from his party, Premachandran has sought around a 100 amendments to government legislations, ranging from juvenile justice to the land acquisition bill, of which he has moved around 75, in the just concluded budget session alone. Though none of the amendments have been accepted, as is the general norm, he has singlehandedly given a hard time to the government, at times forcing a response from a minister.
Yet, the 55-year-old soft spoken but firm Kollam MP in the traditional Kerala mundu and shirt sitting in the right corner of the fifth row has come in for praise from both sides of the political aisle.
Premachandran’s passion to delve into legislations has brought him into the limelight. But, its not an easy task, he admits. Once he gets a bill, he starts going through it in the evening. “During session days, I sleep at 2 am and then get up early.” He has no research team except a PA in Kerala provided by the state government who assists him and the Research wing of Parliament library, where he spends a lot of time. His legal background also comes in handy.
“Premachandran does his homework very well. But I assure him that this law gives the President the power only to remove difficulties as many other laws do including the 44th Constitutional Amendment which nullified the 42nd amendment of the emergency,” Jaitley had said in the House. The MP is understood to have come in for praise also by the Congress leaders at a meeting of the parliamentary party.
A fellow traveller on the way from Thiruvananthapuram to Delhi during the session recalls how Premachandran pored over cuttings making notes on the land acquisition bill. “Soon after the seat belt signs were off, he got up and opened the overhead bin to take out a bundle of files…. All through he was so engrossed in it that he did not hear the attendant asking if he wanted to eat something. He was lucky to get a chicken sandwich,” the passenger said.
When he returns home, Premachandran gets busy with constituency work. “If on any day I manage to reach home by 8 pm, my wife and I go for a late night Malayalam movie,” he says. He is the only politician in his family, says Premachandran, who comes from a middle class Nair household. In Parliament, he is a familiar face having been MP in the 11th and 12th Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha (2000-06), but this time he has shifted his allegiance from the CPM-led LDF to the Congress-led UDF.