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Amid wait for reconstitution of the 24 department-related standing committees (DRSC), Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday laid emphasis on the attendance and performance of members over the past year.
The Rajya Sabha secretariat has compiled the report of 243 members of the Upper House from 32 parties, Independents and nominated members in 361 meetings held between September 2020 and August 2021. These details of further shared with the leaders of the political parties for nominating members for the committees based on their experience and interest.
Vice President Naidu, who was the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the first term of the Narendra Modi government, is known to shunt out members from committees due to poor attendance in meetings. He has kept track of the progress and performance reports submitted by various committees. On multiple occasions on his meeting with the committee chairman, he has urged all to ensure that at least 50 per cent of the members are present during these meetings to have healthy discussions.
As per the report,the average attendance of the committees has been at about 46% in the last 361 meetings, indicating 14 out of 30 members have attended a meeting. The quorum of 11 members is required to be minimum.
Out of the strength of 243 members in the Upper House, only 16 members have attended all meetings. This includes 10 members from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), three members of the Congress party and one member each from Samajwadi party DMK and TRS.,
The report said 115 other members clocked attendance of 50% and nearly one-third of the members of the house have reported a poor 30% overall attendance.
The members who attended all the scheduled meetings of the respective committees were; Prof. Ramgopal Yadav (SP) P Wilson (DMK), Dr K Keshava Rao (TRS), Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and Chaya Verma (Congress); Dr Subramonian Swamy, Rakesh Sinha, K C Ramamurthy, Arun Singh, Vikas Mahatme, Ashok Bajpai, Dr D P Vats, Jaiprakash Nishad, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and T G Venkatesh,
The average attendance of 92 BJP members in these meetings has been 56.56%, while 38 Congress members have clocked a 41.86% performance.
For parties with under 13 members in the Rajya Sabha, the average attendance of YSRCP (6 members) has been 66.66% while JDU(5) reported the lowest attendance of 16.17%. The average attendance are: BJD (9 members)-61.65%; TRS (7)-43.56%; DMK (7)-41.34%; SP (8)-37.98%; RJD (5)-36.36%; CPM (7)-33.96%; AIADMK (9)-31.09%; BSP (5)-26.66% and TMC (13)-24.44%.
Political parties with less than four members are AAP (3)-77.19%; Shiv Sena(3)-75.55%; SAD (3)-69.23%; NCP (4)-39.21% and J&KPDP (2)-16.66%.
The attendance of 14 parties with single-member each has been 23% with K Ravindra Kumar (TDP) reporting 90% attendance having attended 18 of the 20 scheduled meetings. Five Independents and Nominated members had 9% attendance.
The Secretary-General Dr P P K Ramacharyulu had spoken to leaders of various parties, conveying the intention of the Chairman regarding mandatory attendance. Some leaders responded to their low attendance citing the COVID-19 pandemic and elections in some States.
BJP had mostly 4 to 5 members in each of the 24 DRSCs while the Congress had two members each in 15 committees and one each in eight such panels.
Regarding the interest taken by the members in the meetings of different committees; the attendance of BJP members has been the highest in the meetings of Committee on Defence at 87.50% followed by Chemicals & Fertilizers-83.33%; Personnel, Pensions and Public Grievances-79.16%; Home Affairs -77.63%; Coal & Steel-75.00%; Industry-72.72% and Education-66.66%.
Attendance of BJP members in 21 of the 24 committees has been more than 50%, while in respect of the committees on Rural Development, Information Technology and Energy, it has been close to 50%.
Regarding the Congress members, the highest attendance of 100% has been reported in Science & Technology with the lone member Jairam Ramesh having attended all the meetings as Chairman. It is followed by; Agriculture-93.33%; Chemicals and Fertilizers-88.88%; Water Resources-83.33%; Education-83.33%; Home Affairs-78.94% and Rural Development-70.83%.
Congress members reported attendance of 3.12% in Finance; External Affairs-8.92%; Commerce-13.00% and Energy-21.42%. The party members reported attendance of below 50% in 11 committees.
Eight Rajya Sabha committees and 16 of Lok Sabha are recast in September every year by both the Presiding Officers of Parliament in consultation with respective parties and the Government. Each committee has 11 members from Rajya Sabha and 20 from Lok Sabha.