BJP chief Amit Shah asked party MPs to ensure their attendance in Parliament as long as the two Houses are in session. Union Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters that Shah took serious view of the absence of the party MPs in Rajya Sabha on Monday when a Constitutional Amendment bill was being voted upon. Since there were not enough BJP MPs in the Upper House, the government had to drop a crucial clause from the bill granting constitutional status to the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC). The amendments, that had the support of 74 Opposition MPs, were easily passed against NDA’s 52 MPs.
The incident proved to be a major embarrassment for the NDA which commands at least 78 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, excluding 10 members of the JD(U), the BJP’s new ally.
“The government was totally unprepared and nonchalant. It did not even have full strength. A constitutional amendment is serious business. The government (was) not at all serious,” Congress leader P Chidambaram had told the Indian Express.
The bill, which would have given constitutional status to the NCBC, was considered to be important for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it would have benefited the BJP in upcoming elections in Rajasthan, Gujarat and the southern states.
At the last parliamentary party meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked all BJP MPs to be present when parliamentary proceedings were on as he was concerned about the lack of quorum in the Houses. He also warned them that he could call them any time he wanted.