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'DNA' special: When Rahul Gandhi plays truant regularly…

Sunday, 20 May 2012 - 9:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

For someone tipped to be the prime minister, the Congress general secretary’s record as a parliamentarian paints a dismal picture.

For someone tipped to be the prime minister, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s record as a parliamentarian paints a dismal picture. His attendance is just about 40%, and has not taken part in any debate in last three years.

If he is worried about the “supremacy of Parliament” in raising issues, then it certainly doesn’t show since he has posed only one question since May 2009.

Barring a single question on the Unique Identification Number scheme in March 2012, the last time Rahul asked a question in Parliament was in 2005. Then he had asked three questions - quality education in technical institutes, vocational training institutes and the strengthening of the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi. He hasn’t asked any supplementary question either.

When it comes to attendance, the Gandhi scion seems to be skipping the House regularly. Out of the 244 days that Parliament has been in session, Rahul attended Lok Sabha on 99 days only. Why he skipped so many days when Parliament was in session has not been explained.

Rahul did not respond to a detailed email from DNA seeking his views on his performance in Parliament.

Rahul seems to have missed the most important debates, including the discussion during the special session of the Parliament on Lokpal in August while Anna Hazare was fasting at the Ramlila Maidan. He showed up on August 26 and made a brief speech in the morning, eliciting loud protests from the Opposition benches who alleged that the rules did not allow for a speech during Zero Hour. Rahul disappeared from Parliament soon after making the speech in which, ironically, he waxed eloquently about the “supremacy of Parliament.”

Rahul’s attendance in the 14th Lok Sabha, from May 2004 to April 2009 was not best either.  The data is available for last five of the 15 sessions. Rahul attended Parliament for 49 days out of total 90 days.

In the current budget session, which is the longest session of Parliament, Rahul’s attendance has been abysmal. He attended Parliament for only 11 days out of the total of 31 till May 18. The session, that begun on March 12 and had a break in between and will continue till May 22, saw Rahul’s attendance plummeting to 35.4%.

This in many ways, is the most important session as the general and railway budgets as well as the demand for grants by ministries is discussed and debated threadbare. However, Rahul has not participated in any of the debates.

Once, in March 2005, he had raised the plight of sugarcane farmers as a special mention. But during the subsequent years he participated in debates only four times - twice in 2006 and twice in 2008. In both the tenures as an MP, Rahul failed to ask any supplementary questions, nor did he introduce any private member bill or even pass private member resolutions.

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