RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu Asks Parties to Nominate Members to Panels Based on Their Interest

New Delhi: Ahead of the reconstitution of the 24 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees (DRSCs) of the two Houses of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has desired that members of Rajya Sabha be nominated on these committees based on their interest and participation in the meetings held over last year.

To assist parties in factoring in the attendance criteria before nominating an MP to a DRSC, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has compiled the details of the participation of 243 MPs from 32 parties, independents and nominated members in 361 meetings of these committees held between September 2020 and August 2021.

This, however, has been introduced as general advice to parties to nominate the members based on their interest in the subjects to be handled, experience and academic background. This is for the first time that details of attendance have been furnished to the parties for consideration ahead of the nomination exercise.

In September, eight committees of Rajya Sabha and 16 of Lok Sabha are to be recast in an annual exercise by both the presiding officers of the Parliament in consultation with respective parties and the government. Each committee has 11 members from Rajya Sabha and 20 from Lok Sabha.

In the last three years, Venkaiah Naidu has been regularly reviewing the functioning of the eight DRSCs of Rajya Sabha in respect of attendance and duration of meetings. He was sharing the outcomes with the chairmen of respective committees.

Naidu had urged the chairmen of the committees to ensure attendance of 50 per cent in every meeting and maintain a duration of two-and-a-half hours per meeting. As a result, there has been a steady improvement in these aspects.

The data accessed by media revealed that the overall attendance of Rajya Sabha MPs in the last 361 meetings has been about 46 per cent, not 50 per cent as desired by the House Chairman. This means that on an average, 14 of the 31 members of each committee attended the meetings of DRSCs.

In Rajya Sabha panels, 16 members had the distinction of having attended all the scheduled meetings in the last year. These include 10 from BJP, three from Congress and one each from Samajwadi Party (SP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

The members who attended all the scheduled meetings of the respective committees were Professor Ramgopal Yadav (SP), P Wilson (DMK), Dr K Keshava Rao (TRS), Anand Sharma (Congress), Jairam Ramesh (Congress), and Chaya Verma (Congress).

From the BJP, Dr Subramanian Swamy, Rakesh Sinha, KC Ramamurthy, Arun Singh, Vikas Mahatme, Ashok Bajpai, Dr DP Vats, Jaiprakash Nishad, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and TG Venkatesh had 100 per cent attendance in standing committee meetings.

115 other members clocked attendance of 50 per cent or more in the last one year, according to the data.

Overall, 131 members, accounting for 54 per cent of the Upper House, have reported attendance of 50 per cent or more in the meetings of DRSCs last year.

According to the data, the attendance of about one-third members of the Rajya Sabha last year has been below 30 per cent.

Comparison of party-wise attendance record shows that the average attendance of 92 BJP members of Rajya Sabha in these meetings last year has been 56.56 per cent while the same for 38 Congress members being 41.8 per cent.

The BJP had mostly four to five members in each of the 24 DRSCs while the Congress had two members each in 15 committees and one each in eight.

For the parties with 5 to 13 members, the average attendance of YSRCP (six members) has been 66.66 per cent while JDU (five) reported the lowest attendance of 16.17 per cent.

The average attendance in respect of other parties was — BJD (9) – 61.65 per cent; TRS (7) – 43.56 per cent; DMK (7) – 41.34 per cent; SP (8) – 37.98 per cent; RJD (5) -36.36 per cent; CPM (7) – 33.96 per cent; AIADMK (9) – 31.09 per cent; BSP (5) – 26.66 per cent and TMC (13) – 24.44 per cent.

Parties with less number of MPs in Rajya Sabha fared much better than their counterparts in big parties. Of the parties with 2 to 4 members; attendance of AAP members (3) has been 77.19 per cent; Shiv Sena (3) – 75.55 per cent; SAD (3) – 69.23 per cent; NCP (4) – 39.21 per cent and J&K PDP (2) – 16.66 per cent.

The one-man army outfits in Rajya Sabha didn’t fare well either. The attendance MPs of 14 parties with single member each has been 23 per cent with K Ravindra Kumar from TDP reporting 90 per cent attendance. Kumar attended 18 of the 20 scheduled meetings.

The independents and nominated members who complained about not getting adequate space

and time in proceedings fared terribly as five independents and nominated members had 9 per cent attendance.

The information was provided to all parties by Secretary General Dr PPK Ramacharyulu. Many parties told the Secretary General that low attendance in some cases was on account of Covid-19 pandemic and elections in some states.

(With agency inputs)