An independent study of politicians above 80 across party lines shows age to be an advantage when it comes to performance on the floor of the House. This includes attendance, raising issues, and participation in debates in Lok Sabha.
This might explain the insistence by BJP veteran L K Advani (86) to prefer to slug it out for a berth in Parliament. Advani was being talked about for a Rajya Sabha nomination, an offer he turned down. However, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar (73) and CPI (M) leader Gurudas Dasgupta (77) have recently declared not to fight upcoming Lok Sabha polls citing advancing age.
A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of MPs ageing between 80 and above shows their average attendance is far better than the national average in Lok Sabha. While the average attendance of 80 plus MPs in Lok Sabha stands at 81 per cent, average attendance of 543 Lok Sabha MPs yet stands at 76 per cent. The analysis doesn’t include data from the ongoing budget session of the parliament.
For instance, the only centenarian MP in the Lok Sabha, Ram Sundar Das (92) of JD (U) has asked 404 questions in the house with 89 per cent attendance. However, the national average questions asked by all members of 15th Lok Sabha are 292.
BJP’s ‘Loh purush’also have a good record in parliament. In 15th Lok Sabha, his attendance so far stands at 96 per cent. He hasn’t asked any question in ongoing Lok Sabha but has participated in 39 debates. In previous Lok Sabha, when he was the leader of opposition in the house, he took part in 55 debates. Another BJP leader, Kailash Joshi (84) has improved his record as an MP in comparison to his previous innings between 2004 and 2009.
Joshi has asked 73 questions so far in comparison to 23 in 14th Lok Sabha. In 15th Lok Sabha his attendance stands at 83 per cent as against 75 per cent in the previous Lok Sabha. Moreover, in 15th Lok Sabha, attendance of JDU’s Jainarain Prasad Nishad (83) and BSP’s Shafiqur Rahman Barq (83) stands at 79 per cent and 98 per cent respectively. Likewise, attendance of saffron party’s Kabindra Purkayastha (82) and Congress’ Sukhdev Singh Libra (81) is recorded at 90 per cent and 98 per cent respectively in the current Lok Sabha.
However, there are few octogenarian MPs whose attendance is not as good as others. For example attendance of DMK’s Danapal Venugopal (82) in current Lok Sabha is 65 per cent, followed by former Prime Minister of India, HD Devegowda (80) at 60 per cent. Devegowda has been elected from Janata Dal (Secular) in the parliament. Among all 80 plus parliamentarians in the lower house, Kalyan Singh (81) has a poor attendance record.
His attendance in ongoing Lok Sabha stands at 50 per cent. In previous Lok Sabha, his attendance stood at 49 per cent. Facts about Sis Ram Ola (86), Ambica Banerjee (85) and Bhajan Lal (83) have not been included for the analysis as they passed away recently.