…the most interesting finding from parliamentary performance of M.P.s from Kerala is that the best performing M.P. from Kerala was denied a ticket by Congress party, and the worst performing member, Kumbakudi Sudhakaran (who himself wanted to drop off the race, possibly realizing his ineffectiveness in Delhi) was asked to contest. A clear sign that Rahul Gandhi’s overarching strategy to lose this election is actually working.
and as always it not how you vote, but how your vote is counted that matters.
Lal Krishna Advani once reminded a boisterous group of hecklers in Gandhinagar he is running for Member of Parliament, sovereign policy making body of the republic, and not for local municipality or state government, agencies that are responsible for better roads and local development. Many a times voters fail to understand this. It is as much about how you vote as what your vote is counted towards.
While the constitution has no clarity on responsibilities of an M.P. (remember your civics text did not have this section), the generally accepted duties of a Member of Parliament based on tradition are –
- Protecting and changing the constitution through amendments.
- Policy making and influencing policy making through legislation. (passing or stalling bills, private bills).
- Ensuring budget allocation and development projects for his or her constituency in a federal democracy.
- Being the voice of his or her constituents, state, nation and in general all of humanity in the people’s assembly.
An M.P. is expected to represent the best interests of the nation and his constituents in this process by participation in debates, asking questions, sponsoring bills, sitting in sub-committees and to get to all these – first show up in parliament.
On a side note, there are some M.P.s who tout spending M.P. funds as an achievement and list every bus waiting shed they built as an achievement. The problem with that is, you are touting how you spend 20-25 crore rupees over five years, while you are send to New Delhi in the first place to influence an yearly planned and non-planned spend of 18 trillion rupees. That is like missing the forest for the amoeba.
Members of Parliament from Kerala
So how did M.P.s from Kerala do overall in areas that matter? The data is interesting. Members of Parliament from Kerala ranked number 1 by a wide margin across all large states.
One M.P. from Kerala on an average participates in more debates than one M.P. from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Chhattisgarh combined.
Kerala send 20 M.P.s to 15th Lok Sabha, all male, average age 60 years. 16 of them from the Congress alliance and 4 from the Communist Party. The most interesting finding from parliamentary performance of M.P.s from Kerala is that the best performing M.P. from Kerala was denied a ticket by Congress party, and the worst performing member, Kumbakudi Sudhakaran (who himself wanted to drop off the race, possibly realizing his ineffectiveness in Delhi) was asked to contest. A clear sign that Rahul Gandhi’s overarching strategy to lose this election is actually working.
Or it could be that Kumbakudi Sudhakaran and Shashi Tharoor are closer to Rahul Gandhi. Mind you, closer, but not even close. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s blockbuster performance in parliament asking zero questions (against national average of 300 questions) and participating in 2 debates (against national average of 38 and Kumbakudi Sudhakaran average of 14) is tough to match. Nonetheless BJP’s national president Rajnath Singh has tried real hard with his own set of ridiculous numbers.
M.B.Rajesh from Palakkad and P.T.Thomas from Idukki get top grades across debate participation, questions and attendance, while the only reason for Kannur to send K.Sudhakaran to Delhi would be to send him away from Kerala. One could argue that it isn’t the quantity of participation, but the quality of it. The same argument I once raised in college when I fell short of the minimum attendance. A very valid argument, but the likes of Jose K.Mani (below state average) and M.I.Shanavas (below national average) bringing in a step change in quality of debates at national stage is suspect, given the way they struggle even in local tv debates.
Shashi Tharoor, Kodikunnil Suresh, and K.C.Venugopal served as ministers and their data has been extrapolated for a full term. Shashi Tharoor may have been planning to participate in more debates, as some of his supporters will argue, but the 2 and half years he was not a minister was abysmal. The M.P. from Thiruvananthapuram though triggered several national debates through participation in twitter, and in April people from Trivandrum will have to make a call on whether he needs be in Delhi to do that. If Tharoor wins a 2nd term, better participation in parliament can be a carry over item along with Vizhinjam, high court bench etc which didn’t happen in his 1st term. To Tharoor’s credit, he did move a private bill for HC in Trivandrum, but that bill lapsed.
E.T.Mohammed Basheer and P.C.Chacko asked very few questions. Quite normal for P.C.Chacko, since he did the same heading the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking into 2G spectrum scam. E.T.Mohammed Basheer and Peethambara Kurup asked fewer questions primarily because they understood exactly what was going on. Without doubt.
Three M.P.s not included in the list are K.V.Thomas, Mullapally Ramachandran and E.Ahamad who served full term of 15th Loksabha as ministers. Their performance can be gauged by the ministries they handled. K.V.Thomas was in charge of ensuring manageable food prices and he along with the Maratha strongman ensured India has one of the highest food price inflations in the world, Mullapally Ramachandran was in charge of central home ministry and was accused of his own party’s minister in the state of intervening and trying to subvert police investigation into one of the more gruesome political murders in Kerala, and E. Ahamad is minister for external affairs from Malappuram constituency, a place where performance doesn’t matter yet. K.V.Thomas is contesting as Congress candidate from Ernakulam, Mullapally as Congress candidate from Vadakara, and E.Ahamad as always is contesting as a joke. (and will most probably win).
As the whole motley crowd comes up for re-election, Kerala can be happy we have better M.P.s than rest of the country, but there are some gentlemen up for re-election who will be able to serve the country better by not being re-elected. P.C. Chacko, M. I. Shanavas,E. T. Mohammed Basheer, E Ahamad, K.V.Thomas are some of those gentlemen. Despite being the worst performer Kumbakudi Sudhakaran should be re-elected and send to Delhi since that will keep him away from Kerala. In all, it isn’t the vote, but what you want your vote to count towards.
@brahma_n This only covers 2 out of my 5 years as MP. My work in Parliament as a Minister for 3 years is not included in these tables!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 21, 2014
Tharoor points out he was minister for over 2 years and that is not included in the numbers. Tharoor’s numbers along with KC Venugopal and Kodikunnil Suresh have been extrapolated for full five years of 15th house using best possible proxy of state average. To give a sense of raw numbers, in 20 months as M.P KC Venugopal asked 235 questions, while Tharoor asked a paltry 88 questions in 30 months. Similar comparison with Kodikunnil in debates. Nonetheless expected much more parliamentary participation from a man of letters and ex-diplomat.
Note: There could be an argument that an M.P. may have performed well in other places, but not in parliament. Like what other places is a good question. But even in that case, that M.P. should be send to those ‘other places’ and not to parliament in the first place.