KRAs for MPs! Any takers?

Monsoon Session washout has reignited the call for greater accountability for the elected representatives in the country.

Ajay Vaishnav & Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Indian parliament witnessed yet another disruption as an ugly clash that ensued between two members was beamed live to the shocked nation. This has reignited the call for greater accountability for the elected representatives in the country.

Is it time Key Result Areas (KRAs) are set for them? Especially since the young voter is visibly getting restless as evidenced by vocal support to mass agitations launched this year by civil society activists in the country. There is ever growing indifference to politicians of all hues in view of growing accountability deficit.

The 15th Lok Sabha has transacted limited business with disruptions being the norms rather than the exception. The monsoon session this time got almost washed out over Coalgate scam leading to several important Bills pending to be discussed and passed. Team ZRG has pointed on earlier occasions how the 15th Lok Sabha has lost precious legislative hours and more importantly, public money all the while. As a result, the sitting Lok Sabha’s strike rate in terms of the number of bills passed is dismal.

But the moot question is can elected representatives be made more accountable using the corporate experience? Professor Pradip Kumar Datta, head of department of Political Science at the University of Delhi shares the same thought, “There should be a policy for accountability of the MP’s. We should establish a mechanism where work of parliamentarians can be reviewed annually if not quarterly.”

However, Ashok Tanwar Congress MP, part of the Gen-X brigade differs. “Setting KRA’s will not provide any answer. Our voters are smart enough to decide between right and wrong. At the time of the election they can throw out the wrong person,” he added.

But the corporate world considers setting KRAs’ as a key tool to improve performance of lawmakers. Kiran Karnik, former President, Nasscom supported the idea, “It is a very good idea. There is indeed a lot of learning from the private sector where there is reward and punishment meted out to executives based on KRAs. The gap between promise and delivery is huge in case of our Parliamentarians hence huge scope to fix scientific performance review.”

Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands India, also partially supported the idea, “It is a theoretical concept which is valid but difficult to implement on whom would initiate it?”

Given the state of acrimony between the two main political parties in the country is at its worse, it is unlikely that future parliamentary sessions even in a fresh Lok Sabha will wither and give way to deliberations and discussions, Desai warned.

Prof. Datta at University of Delhi endorses Desai’s viewpoint, “The ongoing disruptions in the Parliament are really annoying for aam aadmi. Scenes of disruptions in both Houses do add up the frustration of common man.”

Karnik illustrated past efforts in this direction to suggest KRAs would indeed help. “Look at what the annual assets and crime record statement filing has done. It has indeed helped.” But who would set the KRAs in this case? Said Karnik, “The KRA setting has to come from elected members themselves.”

A radical suggestion to ensure greater discipline and accountability among lawmakers came from Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah. Last year in 2011 during winter session, Abdullah then tweeted: “Time for No work No Pay. If a minimum number of hours of business aren’t transacted that day, no allowances should be paid out to parliamentarians.” From Bharatiya Janata Party’s Varun Gandhi and Anurag Thakur to Congress’ Deepender Hooda, his suggestion struck chord with young parliamentarians. ZRG attempted to approach Abdullah and Thakur (via twitter) for comments on their suggestion but did not get any response.

Young MP, Tanwar shot down the idea arguing, “This is a minor issue since cutting salary of any MP won’t solve the problem. We have been designated by the people of our country to make new laws.” Prof Datta too didn’t buy the concept. He countered, “We cannot coerce it (no work, no pay) on our politicians. This is against democracy.” However, he added an exception “in rarest of rare case some MP’s who are intentionally violating the rules can be fined.”

But will there be any takers for KRAs for MPs? While Karnik sees a lot of young educated parliamentarians buying the idea Desai said, “Even if there are takers they will be bulldozed to say no.”