April 11, 2009

Mamata vocal in Bengal, silent in Parliament

a poster by cpi(m)
By Tarun Goswami
The Statesman,
13th April,2009
KOLKATA, April 12: If the performance of an MP in Parliament is the criterion for re-election, Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Banerjee would seem to have shot herself in the foot.It may sound unbelievable, but Miss Banerjee who is so vociferous against the CPI-M and speaks frequently about the state's development, did not ask a single question in Parliament as to why there had been inordinate delay on the Centre's part in clearing some of the important projects for the state in the past five years. During this period Miss Banerjee had made only 8 special mentions, participated in just 33 debates and did not raise any supplementary question. From an analysis of Miss Banerjee's performance in Parliament it may well be concluded that she was fully satisfied with the performance of the UPA government and her Kolkata South constituency was free from any trouble. The Parliament records of two firebrand CPI-M MPs, Mohammad Selim and Mr Sujan Chakraborty, too, seem to be far from satisfactory. While Mr Selim had asked only a single question during the past five years, his comrade Mr Chakraborty had asked 16 questions, which is just two questions per year between 2004 -09. Like Miss Banerjee, Mr Selim did not ask any supplementary question during the past five years. During this period, he had made 14 special mentions and participated in 97 debates. Mr Chakraborty has raised only one supplementary questions in the same period, made 6 special mentions and taken part in 39 debates. CPI-M heavyweight and the party's MP from Barrackpore, Mr Tarit Topdar, in whose constituency closed factories are a major issue and who blames the Centre for the failure to revive them, had asked just 16 questions, participated in 11 debates and had made 2 special mentions between 2004 and 2009. He did not ask a single supplementary question. Another party heavyweight Mr Nikhilananda Sar from Burdwan had not asked any question at all in the past five years though he had taken part in 14 debates and had made one special mention in 5 years. He also did not find any suitable issue to ask supplementary questions on in the past five years.By contrast, the Congress's Mr Adhir Chowdhury had raised 849 questions in the past five years and taken part in 109 debates. He made 26 special mentions and had asked 13 supplementary questions. Analysing the records on the performance of the MP, it is evident that he is head and shoulders above his colleagues in Parliament from the state. Next to Mr Chowdhury is Mr Basudeb Acharya, CPI-M MP from Bankura. He had asked 491 questions and took part in 240 debates. He made 61 special mentions and had asked 4 supplementary questions. Mr Joakim Buxla of the RSP, MP from Alipurduar and Mr Subrata Basu, Forward Bloc MP from Barasat, both of whom have been dropped this time by their respective parties had done quite well in Parliament. While Mr Buxla had raised 300 questions in the past five years, his colleague Mr Basu had asked 372 questions in the past five years. Both of them had participated in 30 debates each. Mr Shamik Lahiri, another much pampered leader of CPI-M had asked 29 questions and made 2 mentions. He did not ask any supplementary questions in the past five years. However, he had taken part in 13 debates during this period. From the analysis of the performance of the MPs from the state, it can be said that more than 30 of them did not perform at all in the Lok Sabha. In Parliamentary democracy, the MPs are supposed to be the voice of the people who had elected them. For West Bengal, it appears as if the MPs had attended the sessions, taken their allowances and perks, and let their electors down with a thud.