Somnath’s new dilemma: silent MPs

February 25th, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) Some MPs are too noisy, but some are also too silent. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Wednesday displayed his annoyance at “silent” parliamentarians who had not spoken a word in the Lok Sabha during their five-year tenure.
“Voters who vote for them do not want silent members,” Chatterjee told reporters on parliament’s premises, days after he reprimanded MPs who constantly disrupted proceedings.

Chatterjee, in the same breath, noted that nobody could force MPs to ask questions. “How can you compel them to speak?” he asked.

Chatterjee, who has announced that he will not be contesting the coming general elections, will preside over the 15th and last session of the current Lok Sabha that comes to an end Thursday.

Even during the current session that has barely lasted two weeks, few MPs attended, especially when the Lok Sabha discussed the government’s interim budget for 2009-10.

Last week, the Lok Sabha was adjourned over two hours ahead of scheduled time due to lack of quorum.

Throughout his tenure as presiding officer of the Lok Sabha, Chatterjee has had several run-ins with MPs, sometimes cajoling them to be reasonable while at other times playing the strict disciplinarian.

Chatterjee found himself helpless in the face of a determined bid by MPs last week to raise some issues. Frustrated by the disruptions, a fuming Chatterjee had told the MPs they were insulting the public.

“You don’t deserve any allowances,” he said. “I think this house should be adjourned sine die. This is the only way to save public money.”

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