As many as 95 MPs did not attend even a single meeting of the parliamentary standing committees that reviewed allocations for different ministries post-presentation of the Union Budget for 2020-21 fiscal, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday.
The two dozen department-related parliamentary standing committees, with 244 MPs from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, considered Demands for Grants of all the ministries during the three-week recess following the Budget presentation.
Giving an account of the meetings of these panels on the opening day of the Rajya Sabha after the recess, Chairman Naidu said, “95 members, accounting for 39 per cent of the total 244, did not attend any meeting on the Demands for Grants. Only 28 members had zero attendance last time”.
Of the 78 Rajya Sabha MPs on these committees, 23, or 29 per cent, did not attend any meeting as against 11 such members in the last review in December. Out of 166 Lok Sabha MPs, 78, or 47 per cent, were absent in all meetings of these panels against 72 MPs in the last review, he said.
Chairman Naidu said since the introduction of department-related parliamentary standing committees in 1993, substantial work of Parliament is being transacted by these panels which have members from all parties and work in a nonpartisan manner.
The meetings of these panels make up for the about 30 sittings of Parliament and fill the void created by the decline in the number of days when the Parliament meets — on 60-70 days in a year from earlier 100 or more, he said, adding that the three-week recess was meant for 24 department-related parliamentary standing committees to consider Demands for Grants of all the Ministries as proposed in the Budget presented on February 1.
“The total number of members who skipped two or more successive meetings has increased from 100 last year to 106 now. These include 28 members from Rajya Sabha as in the case of last review and 78 members from Lok Sabha, with an increase of six from the last time,” he said.
Chairman Naidu said the exercise was to bring in more accountability and transparency in the system so that Parliamentary functioning can improve.
“I would like to reiterate my appeal to leaders of all parties, floor leaders and members to ensure better attendance in the meetings of Parliamentary Committees so that they do justice to the mandate with which they have been conceived. This warrants qualitative and quantitative improvement,” he said.
Chairman Naidu said out of the 24 department-related parliamentary standing committees, 8 relating to Rajya Sabha saw 45.35 per cent attendance in the 20 meetings held in the budget recess.
“I am not happy on that count,” he said. “Four of these eight Committees have reported attendance of more than 50 per cent, which is a positive sign. The highest attendance of 65.51 per cent has been in the meetings of the Committee on Health and Family Welfare. I am also happy to inform that 19 of the 29 members of this Committee attended each of the three meetings of the Committee. Lowest attendance of 32.25 per cent has been in respect of the Committee on Commerce.”
The attendance of the Rajya Sabha MPs at 52.57 per cent continues to be higher than that of Lok Sabha at 46.37 per cent.
“While the overall attendance of members of the BJP and the Congress, accounting for a total of 142 members, has been much higher than 50 per cent, the attendance of members from other parties, accounting for 102 Members, has been only about 40 per cent,” he said.
Giving an account of the working of the committees in respect of the Demands for Grants for 2020-21, he said the 8 panels of Rajya Sabha held 20 meetings and discussed the demands of 18 ministries over 63 hours, which equals to over 10 sitting of the House.
Similarly, the 16 Committees of Lok Sabha had another 20 sittings of Parliament.
“In all, the work put in by the total 24 DRSCs in examining the Demands for Grants of all the Ministries equals to 30 days of the functioning of the Parliament, which is quite significant. That alone takes the total sittings of the Parliament during a year to over 100 days,” he said.
As many as 87 MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha out of the 244 members of the panels attended all the meetings as compared to 36 MPs last year. “The number of Members of Rajya Sabha with full attendance has increased from 18 last time to 28 now. In the case of Lok Sabha members, the increase in this regard has been from 18 last time to 59 now.”
“The first part of the Budget Session has largely been purposeful with 96 per cent productivity,” Chairman Naidu said. “I hope that this part of the Session would prove to be even more meaningful.”