New Delhi, April 26:
Rajya Sabha members on Tuesday questioned the continuing absence of actor and Trinamool Congress member Mithun Chakraborty from the house.
On Tuesday, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien read out an application from Chakraborty requesting for leave on health grounds.
“…He is unable to attend sittings of the house during current session on health grounds,” Kurien said, reading out from the letter.
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal, however, objected to it and said there should be a cap on how much leave one can take on health grounds.
“In every session there is a letter from Mithun Chakraborty that he is unable to attend the house… and he gets exemption. There should be some limit on this… It is fine if a member is unwell, but if a member does this in every session, it is a misuse of a facility,” said Agrawal.
“The chair should give a ruling on this too,” Agrawal said.
Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, however, defended Chakraborty.
“…He is sick for a long time, and he has also submitted the medical reports to that effect. So, I will request the house to consider his leave of absence on medical ground,” he said.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader K.C. Tyagi said political workers toil for years, go to jail, and face police batons before getting a seat in the house.
“There should be a code of conduct for all political parties that they should send such members who can participate in the proceedings of the house, and the house may benefit. If someone is ill, or has some work more important than attending the house, the details should come to the house. However, working in your own field and being absent from the house is an insult of the house,” Tyagi said.
“So, there should be a code of conduct. They will not come to the house and do advertisements for private companies, this permission should not be given to Rajya Sabha members,” he said.
Kurien said he cannot disbelieve when a member says he is ill.
“The chair cannot disbelieve when a member says he is sick. Prima facie, chair has to accept it. If it is proved otherwise, we can see what we can do,” he said.
Chakraborty’s application was, however, accepted.
The chair can declare a seat vacated if a member remains absent from house sittings for 60 consecutive days without permission.
According to data available on the website of PRS Legislative Research, Chakraborty has 10 percent attendance in the upper house against an average of 78 percent.
He has so far not participated in any debate, nor has he asked any question or moved a private members’ bill.
In 2014, the upper house had witnessed similar ruckus during the monsoon session over the absence of actor Rekha and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar from the house.
Interestingly, at that time as well it was Naresh Agrawal who pointed out that Tendulkar had attended an event at Vigyan Bhawan but did not come to the house.
Rekha, according to data on PRS Legislative Research’s website, has five percent attendance, while Tendulkar has seven percent attendance.
Tendulkar also has asked seven questions so far, which is still low compared to the average of 212 questions per MP asked in the Rajya Sabha. Rekha has asked no question so far.
Both Rekha and Tendulkar have not participated in any debates.
Actor-turned-politician and Lok Sabha member from Mathura Hema Malini fares better with 38 percent attendance against the national average of 83 percent in the lower house.
She has participated in eight debates, against the national average of 29, and asked 113 questions compared to national average of 124 in the lower house. (IANS)