The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 26 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

NE MPs regular but uninvolved: Study

New Delhi, March 25: MPs from the Northeast score high on attendance but donít fare so well when it comes to participation, a study has revealed.

As far as attending Parliament is concerned, the 25 MPs from the eight northeastern states average more than the national attendance average of 76 per cent. But in other aspects, the MPs, with the exception of P.D. Rai from Sikkim, have underperformed, whether it came to participating in debates, introducing private memberís bills or simply asking questions during question hour.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura have 25 parliamentary constituencies between them.

According to the study by PRS Legislative Research, BJP MP from Gauhati, Bijoya Chakravarty, is one of the good performers. She has introduced the highest number of private memberís bills (four) among all the legislators from the Northeast. Sikkim Democratic Front MP P.D. Rai participated in the highest number of debates (70) ó compared to the national average of 37.9. All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief, Badruddin Ajmal and CPMís West Tripura MP Khagen Das asked more questions than the national average of 300.

However, the list of those who sat regularly but silently is much longer.

Congressís Jorhat MP and former DoNER minister B.K. Handique did not ask any questions nor did he participate in any debates. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoiís brother, Dip Gogoi, was just as disinterested, as was Biren Singh Engti from Assamís Autonomous District (Diphu) constituency. Ajmal may have been good at asking questions but failed to introduce a single private memberís bill.

Although private memberís bills rarely become legislations, they indicate the participation and enthusiasm of MPs every Friday ó the day marked for introduction and debate on such bills. Questions about the Northeast, despite its strategic and environmental significance and poor infrastructure, have been few in both Houses of Parliament during the 16th Lok Sabha. There have been many question hours where the DoNER ministry has drawn a blank.

Congress MP from Barpeta, Ismail Hussain, who has attendance of 94 per cent, was silent on all fronts with no participation in any other category. With a battle brewing between BJPís Chandramohan Patowary and AGPís Phani Bhushan Chowdhury, perhaps Barpeta may have more voice in the 17th Lok Sabha.

It is the same story with Kaliabor, where the chief ministerís son is contesting instead of his uncle. Ranee Narah, who has been in the news for not being supported by legislators in Lakhimpur parliamentary constituency, also has a poor record of just three debates, no private memberís bill and a paltry score of seven questions asked.

Nagalandís C.M. Chang left Parliament midway to contest the Assembly elections and since then the one-seat state has had little voice. Now, chief minister Neiphiu Rio himself is trying to enter Parliament, increasing the chances of Nagalandís issues being heard.

In terms of states, all except Sikkim seem to have underperformed. For instance, Mizoramís C.L. Ruala participated in just two debates with no private memberís bills and asked just 12 questions. Manipur inched closer to an average performance with 107 questions, Tripura with 155 and Sikkim with 180 still fell short of the average 300.

Arunachal Pradeshís two MPs did not introduce a single private memberís bill and averaged a lowly debate participation of 13.8 compared to the national average of 37.9.

PRS has said that state averages were unavailable for Nagaland and Meghalaya as both the MPs from the Meghalaya were ministers at one point and the one MP from Nagaland resigned in the middle of the term.