While the DMK has been urging voters to elect its nominees to the Lok Sabha to make the voice of the Tamils heard in New Delhi, statistics reveal that several of its Members of Parliament have largely remained silent in the Lower House during the past decade.
In fact, it was the only party which had ‘silent’ MPs from Tamil Nadu in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
Both in the outgoing 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14) and the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09), the Dravidian party’s MPs have earned the dubious distinction of either absenting themselves from Parliament on most days or keeping their ‘fingers on the lips’ during debates.
Yet, the DMK leadership has rewarded its ‘silent MPs’ with party tickets to get elected to the 16th Lok Sabha for which polling would take place on April 24 in Tamil Nadu.
Statistics compiled by the PRS Legislative Research, which has analysed the performance of all MPs in the two Houses, reveal that among the outgoing Parliamentarians, two DMK nominees — M K Alagiri and D Napoleon — both former Union Ministers, had attended Lok Sabha only on four per cent of the days when Parliament was convened. Besides, both had not participated in a single debate or asked any questions.
Since Alagiri has been suspended and Napoleon has sided with him, the voters have been spared the task of re-electing these two dormant MPs.
However, the DMK has given a ticket to former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran who, during 2004-09, had attended Parliament only on 10 per cent of the days. While his attendance record improved to 62 percent in the 15th Lok Sabha, he had participated in just one debate each during the two terms he was MP. But he never found any reason to ask a single question in the last 10 years.
Likewise, the party has re-nominated former Union Minister S Jagathrakshagan, who was present in the House only on 23 per cent of the days. He too has not chipped in any debate or asked questions. Former Telecom Minister A Raja, who will contest for a second term from Nilgiris (Reserved), also did not participate in debates or ask questions but that was because he was jailed in connection with the 2G scam. Yet he has an attendance of 38 per cent.
Another former Minister S Gandhi Selvan, who has been fielded in Namakkal, had participated in just two debates and never asked a question.
The party, however, denied a ticket to S S Palanimanickam, former Union Minister and five-time MP from Thanjavur, who with an attendance of 38 per cent, never participated in a debate or asked a question during 2009-14.
The seat has been given to senior leader T R Baalu, who has been active in Parliament raising 108 questions and participating in 39 debates with an attendance record of 83 per cent.
Overall, during 2009-14, only DMK MPs (five in all) figure among those from Tamil Nadu with an attendance record of less than 40 per cent.
Similarly, the DMK holds the dubious record of five of its MPs not opening their mouth during debates and seven of its MPs not raising a single question.
The MPs of all other political parties have a relatively better record in terms of attendance, participation in debates and asking questions.
The DMK’s Dharmapuri MP R Thamaraiselvan, who has been fielded again, has the good distinction of moving three private members Bill, including a bill to abolish beggary, which are pending.