Modi livid over absent ministers, BJP MPs in the Parliament


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Immediately after the opposition had forced an amendment in the OBC bill passed by the Rajya Sabha last night embarrassing the government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a meeting and expressed his anguish to top Union Ministers over floor mismanagement.

The Upper House passed the bill Monday night without a clause on composition and power of the proposed National Commission for Backward Classes which it wants to empower constitutionally.

Modi, said a BJP leader, held a meeting of the top brass to procure details of missing union ministers and members of the party as the amendment piloted by Congress leader Digvijay Singh was passed due to lack of strength in the treasury benches. The opposition managed to poll 75 votes against the NDA’s 54.

About 31 NDA MPs including 13 BJP MPs and union ministers were absent when the crucial voting took place despite the fact that parliamentary affairs ministry had called and texted them on more than one occasion about the politically important bill under consideration and passage of the Rajya Sabha last evening, said party sources.

Among the ministers not present in the House were Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman. Sports minister Vijay Goyal could not attend as he was not well while Prasad, said sources, had reached the Rajya Sabha but the doors were closed for voting on the bill.

After that, the PM tasked party president Amit Shah to do tough talk with the party MPs to ensure that they are vigilant towards their parliamentary duties. Modi had in the previous BJP parliamentary party meeting had pulled up party members for continued absenteeism that was derailing business in both the Houses.

Shah during his address to the parliamentary party meeting held on Tuesday took a serious view of MPs lenient approach towards Rajya Sabha proceedings for passing the OBC bill, despite a whip was issued. Sources present at the meeting said the party chief was so angry that he warned the lawmakers that they should not take their membership for granted. The BJP chief said that many were in the queue waiting to enter the Upper House, pointed out sources.

"It is not acceptable to be outside the House. The party has given responsibility and you should discharge your duty efficiently," a leader quoted Shah as having told party members.

"When the party issues a whip, members must be present in the House. The party president has taken a serious view of the absence of members. He said it should not have happened and must not be repeated," parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.

All the missing MPs will be asked to give their individual explanation for bunking the House, said a senior leader.

The party chief, who is set to enter Upper House when the election takes place on August 8, also explained that the three line whip issued by the party meant that they have to be in House for participation in the legislative business.

In 2015 too, Modi was anguished over the loss of face due to opposition pushing division of votes in RS over an amendment to the President’s address. At that time too, MPs from the BJP and other NDA allies were not present in the House.

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