Kharventhan: One of Lok Sabha’s most active MPs

March 16th, 2009 - 11:24 am ICT by IANS  

Govinda By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, March 16 (IANS) He is the first in his family to sign his own name. He is the first from his village in Tamil Nadu to graduate and be a lawyer. S.K. Kharventhan, 59, was also one of the best performers in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

During his second tenure as a Congress MP from Palani, Kharventhan ranks first for raising 377 issues under Rule 377 - drawing the attention of the government and the public.

He asked a total of 1,200 questions during the five-year term of the Lok Sabha and took part in 187 debates.

According to a study by PRS Legislative Research, an independent research initiative, nearly 60 MPs including former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and actor-politicians Dharmendra and Govinda did not ask a single question in the 14th Lok Sabha.

Another 67 MPs asked 10 or fewer questions. Kharventhan’s score is 1,200!

“I underwent a bypass surgery and was bedridden for two months. Had it not been for that, I would have scored the top rank on the above three criteria,” Kharventhan told IANS.

According to him, for every five unstarred questions raised by him in parliament, there was a starred question. A starred question is one where the MP posing the question can ask a supplementary question; the minister is bound to answer it.

Feeling upbeat after getting appreciation from his party president Sonia Gandhi, the MP told IANS: “I decided to utilise the available time to the fullest possible. The party encouraged me to speak on all the subjects.”

By his admission, he is one of the first MPs to enter parliament when the Lok Sabha is in session and the last to exit.

Joining the Congress party in 1968 at the age of 18, Kharventhan’s first electoral foray was in 1989 when he contested for the state assembly from Vellakoil constituency and lost.

He won the Palani Lok Sabha seat in 1996 but was defeated in 1998 and 1999. He won again in 2004 securing 448,900 votes of the 695,442 votes polled.

“I focus on issues that affect the people of my constituency, my state (Tamil Nadu), my country and Persons of Indian Origin overseas,” said the father of two grown up sons and a daughter.

A former chairman of the Indian Bar Council, he opposed the Law Commission’s suggestion to have Hindi as the court language. He also took up issues concerning farmers, rivers and rail network besides attacks on Tamils in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

One of his major achievements is the setting up of legal aid clinics for people affected by AIDS in Namakkal and Dindugal in Tamil Nadu.

“The condition of a girl child with AIDS is pathetic. She is thrown out of the house. Like any normal child, an AIDS infected girl child too has equal rights on the family property. The legal clinic helps such persons.”

He said the laying of broad gauge rail track on the Erode-Palani and Dindugal-Coimbatore route and the construction of the Vellakoil-Kangeyam road followed his initiative.

It was his question that prompted the central government to name a vice chancellor for the Gandhigram University. The post was vacant for over 18 months.

He has utilised the MP Local Area Development Fund of Rs.10.09 crore (including interest) to build school buildings, bus shelters, cemented road and Anganvadi centres.

What is his assessment of various central ministries?

“Ministries like agriculture, human resource development, power, surface transport, and finance gave detailed and straight answers. The department of fertilisers used to give confusing answers.”

Internet savvy, Kharventhan hopes to contest the Lok Sabha election from Dindugal or Erode as his existing constituency Palani is one of 13 to vanish owing to delimitation.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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