Two weeks after warning his party’s MPs for being absent in the House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled up Union ministers who skipped debates in Parliament, during BJP’s Parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday.
Urging his party colleagues to rise above politics, Modi asked them to indulge in social services and work for the welfare of people as well as other living beings.
“The Prime Minister said the Opposition members have many a times raised the issue of ministers not being present in the House during debates. He said he had asked for the names of the ministers who had skipped their roster duties in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” said a source who attended the meet.
“Modi ji has asked the ministers not to miss their roster duties in both Houses,” said an MP.
BJP MPs said the Prime Minister was visibly upset that his message of being regular in Parliament was not taken seriously by the ministers. An MP said he has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry to give him details of the ministers who were not present during debates despite being on roster duty.
On July 2, when the first BJP Parliamentary Party meeting of the 17th session of the Lok Sabha took place, Modi had urged all party MPs to be attend the proceedings regularly. Last week, during a debate on the Budget, Opposition MPs had pointed out that ministers were not present in the House to take note of the issues raised by members.
In a press briefing after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters that Modi has asked BJP MPs to nurse their constituencies by playing a leading role in its development and has advised them to take up a cause of human sensitivity, like the eradication of leprosy or tuberculosis and water conservation. First impression is often the last impression, Modi told the party MPs, a large number of them first-timers, as he asked them to work passionately for the development of their areas.
“He talked on the need to serve people and urged them to do something that people remember. For example, they should work on eradicating diseases like leprosy and TB. He reminded them that India is committed to eradicating TB by 2025,” said a source.
Asked to inaugurate a hospital for lepers, Mahatma Gandhi had said that he would rather be invited to put a lock on it, Modi recalled. Joshi said the Prime Minister also noted that India has fixed a deadline of 2025 for eradicating TB against the global deadline of 2030.
Calling the MPs to work on the fields like water conservation, he asked them to work with local authorities for development of their constituencies. He referred to “aspirational” districts, an official term for underdeveloped districts, and asked them to coordinate with authorities to boost their progress.
The source said MPs should not just be concerned about humans. “He said the MPs should work for the welfare of the animals also, especially cattle. Many countries have successfully controlled foot and mouth disease but it remains an issue in India. If the MPs help the people to eradicate that, farmers will be happy, Modi ji said,” the source said.
During the meeting, BJP working president J P Nadda briefed about the party’s ongoing membership drive, with Modi asking MPs to join the campaign which, he added, has received good response from people.