Eager and excited, first-time MPs make their mark

From pouring over the rule book to shoring up their knowledge and participating in debates and discussions in the house, the 314 first-time MPs in the 545-member Lok Sabha are leaving no opportunities to make a mark.

New Delhi: From pouring over the rule book to shoring up their knowledge and participating in debates and discussions in the house, the 314 first-time MPs in the 545-member Lok Sabha are leaving no opportunities to make a mark.

Of the first-timers, 36 have already made their maiden speech in the first week of the budget session that began July 7, according to PRS legislative research.

Many MPs IANS spoke to agreed that they are all excited about entering India`s supreme legislative body but are also aware of their responsibilities.

"There is a very high level of enthusiasm among the party MPs. But we know our responsibilities too," Bhartendra Singh, the BJP MP from Bijnore, told IANS.

He said the enthusiasm among the newcomers could be gauged from the fact that the MPs approach senior party MP Arjun Ram Meghwal seeking to speak on
particular topics in the house.

But, if their wishes are not accommodated, they don`t hesitate to even approach Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

"There were around 80 new MPs from our party who wanted to participate in the debate on the general as well as the railway budgets," Bhartendra Singh added.
"Most MPs want to raise issues relating to their states and constituencies," added the 50-year old Doon school and St Stephen`s alumnus.

So much so that BJP`s P.P. Choudhary from Rajasthan`s Pali constituency tops the list of first-timers who have participated in the maximum debates. He has spoken five times in the first week of the house itself, as per PRS.

According to PRS, overall, 97 MPs spoke in the Lok Sabha in the first week while participating in debates and discussions.

Late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan`s daughter Poonam Mahajan, another first-time MP, said: "We have all come with a sense of joy and responsibility. We are all very energetic and excited."

The speech of the fiery 34-year-old MP from the Mumbai-North Central constituency during the budget discussion found appreciation from all quarters.

Veteran MP from Nellore M. Rajamohan Reddy of the YSR Congress said: "Youngsters are proving their worth. Many newcomers are coming up and speaking. Certainly the veterans are being missed, but first timers are also enthusiastic."
Tapas Mandal, a Trinamool Congress MP, who is a professor by profession, however, lamented that many-a-times the ruling party doesn`t allow opposition members to speak.

"The ruling party does not allow the opposition parties to speak. That is very sad. We should also get a chance to speak," the first-time MP told IANS.

"The democracy that we witness is great, but the house is disrupted often so we don`t get a chance to present our views," Mandal, 42, said.

Agreeing with him, first-timer Joice George, an independent member from Idukki in Kerala, said MPs like him and those from smaller parties do not get enough time to speak.

"There should be some mechanism to provide more time to the independent members, and those from smaller parties. There are many single member-parties represented in the house.

"This would be beneficial for the democracy as these members represent a different view. It will bring more diversity to the debates and discussions," George told IANS.

However, many newcomers feel the absence of veterans like Basudeb Acharia and Gurudas Dasgupta - both of the Left.

While Acharia, a nine-time MP, was defeated by Trinamool Congress`s Moon Moon Sen from Bankura in West Bengal, Dasgupta has announced his retirement from active politics.

Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel told IANS: "Though I am a first-timer and have not interacted with the veterans, I think their presence would have certainly enriched me."

Patel, 33, who studied psychology at the Lady Sriram College for Women here and has taught at the Amity University, said she believed there has to be a generational change at some point of time.

Some BJP MPs, however, felt that the opposition, especially the Congress, needs to be more pro-active.

"The opposition is very lacklustre. (Congress vice president) Rahul Gandhi sits at the back. (Party chief) Sonia Gandhi hardly ever speaks. Except for Mallikarjun Kharge (the leader of the party in the house), there is nobody," Bhartendra Singh said.

"There are a few people who are speaking but the opposition generally is not energetic. (Former minister) Jyotiraditya Scindia spoke very well during the discussion on the budget," he added.

He felt that the Congress needed to encourage more first-timers like Sushmita Dev, its MP from Silchar in Assam, whose statement during question hour last week was v"pleasant" and to the point.

"I feel that Congress should let the newcomers speak more," Bhartendra Singh added.

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