Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed unhappiness over lack of quorum often causing delay in Parliament’s functioning and asked Bharatiya Janata Party members to ensure their presence, saying he can call any of them any time.
He told them at a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting that attending Parliament is their basic responsibility and added wryly that he can do a lot of things but cannot be present in the Houses on their behalf.
Modi ticked off parliamentarians after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar spoke about incidents of lack of quorum in both the Houses, including on Monday, prompting the prime minister to say it should not be about requesting MPs to be present as it is their basic responsibility.
BJP members said he told them that it did not matter to him if they were in the Central Hall, a place to host joint sittings of Parliament where MPs often meet for informal conversation, as what is important is that they should be inside the Houses.
"I can call any of you any time," he told them, a member said, adding that Modi sounded unhappy over absenteeism.
Modi had in the past also asked members to ensure their presence but this is the first time he has spoken about in such detail and talked tough.
He recalled remarks of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary that though the Hindutva organisation had spread far and wide, and its members had a lot of work to do but did not have time to attend shakha.
Likewise, MPs too seemed to have so much of work that they do not have time to attend Parliament, which should not be the case, he said.
As representatives of lakhs of people of their constituency, it is their job to attend the House proceedings, he said.
In his briefing, Kumar said Modi also laid out the ‘road map’ for the party as it gears up to celebrate its foundation day on April 6 and Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14.
Modi told the BJP Parliamentary Party that the party’s primary members, numbering over 11 crore, according to its figures, should be asked to join panchayat and municipal-level meetings on April 6.
All MPs, ministers and party functionaries will participate in these meetings, Kumar told reporters.
Party functionaries will speak about the government’s achievements, the BJP’s upward journey and will be shown a video about this.
Modi asked them to participate in at least one hour of cleanliness drive. Party members in the evening will take out a procession in the evening.
The BJP will be observing a host of events between April 6 and April 16 in which it will highlight how the Modi government has worked to realise Dr Ambedkar’s idea of a ‘samta-mukt samaj’ (equal society) with its schemes like Jan Dhan and Mudra among others.
The prime minister also asked them to reach out to small traders and workers, like washermen, to popularise ‘Bhim’ app, a digital payment medium, saying it can help them a lot in making financially more capable.