House toppers fail polls

New Delhi, Dec. 23: What’s the difference between a class topper and a Parliament topper?

Answer: A class topper gets promoted, a Parliament topper can get dumped.

A study has revealed that the five best performing MPs in the previous Lok Sabha did not return for another stint in the current House.

The study, by the National Social Watch, a non-government organisation, evaluated the MPs based on their attendance, questions asked and private bills moved.

Only four among the top 10 — numbers 6, 8, 9 and 10 — were re-elected to the 15th Lok Sabha. Among them was the CPM’s Basudeb Acharya, the No. 10 among the best performers and the only member on the list from Bengal.

Kerala CPI leader C.K. Chandrappan, who heads his party’s state unit, topped the list, scoring 6.13 out of 10, according to the Citizens’ Report on Governance and Development 2010.

Chandrappan didn’t contest the last parliamentary election, but his party candidate lost to the Congress nominee in his constituency Thrissur.

Tough luck, yes, but performance in Parliament, Chandrappan said, isn’t a big issue for Kerala’s voters. “Political considerations outweigh other issues,” he added.

True, agreed Rajya Sabha MP Mohan Singh.

The Samajwadi Party leader, who ranked 3rd on the performer list, didn’t just lose from Deoria, Uttar Pradesh — he came third.

“The public would rather have their MP present in the constituency than see him debate in Parliament,” he said.

Singh also claimed that his opponents had bribed voters and got local newspapers to print favourable reviews for them. “The reportage wasn’t right. They would rather write about the ruckus in Parliament than about the fruitful debates,” he said.

If the Samajwadi leader sounded a tad bitter, S. Jaipal Reddy had an explanation. “We can’t have clean politics when everything else is not so clean,” said the urban development minister who released the report. “Election spending and the number of rich MPs in Parliament will increase. These are the non-economic consequences of huge concentration of wealth.”

When rich people enter Parliament, Reddy added, conflict of interest — industrialists influencing public policy — cannot be avoided. “These issues need to be raised in the media,” he said.

But the veteran leader also had a word of advice for MPs. They couldn’t be “indifferent to publicity” as they need to get re-elected, he said, adding that he didn’t know some of the top-ranking MPs in the report as he had never seen them on TV.

“The press,” he added, “needs to focus on those who make solid speeches.”




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