NEW DELHI: BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Ballia Bharat Singh created a stir this week when he complained about Prime Minister Narendra Modi being “inaccessible” to Union ministers and MPs. Singh was venting his ire during a party meeting earlier this week. However, Modi seems to be the most accessible prime minister to MPs cutting across party lines.
After three tough sessions of Parliament, the prime minister seems to have changed his strategy as he started opening up to MPs by having several one-to-one meetings with them over tea, particularly from the Opposition, on their request.
MPs cutting across party lines have been rushing to meet Modi with requests specific to their constituencies. MPs know that a word from the prime minister may work wonders with his Cabinet colleagues. So, instead of approaching ministers, MPs have been seeking time to meet the prime minister.
Nandi Yellaiah and Gutha Sukhender Reddy, Congress MPs from Telangana, were in for a surprise when they met Modi with a request for opening seven new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) in the Nagarkurnool constituency and increasing the MP quota in KVs’ admission from five to 20.
Instead of saying yes or no to their request, Modi shared his own plight over being petitioned for KV admission requests. The prime minister, who represents Varanasi constituency in the Lok Sabha, told the duo that he was flooded with requests for admission in KVs from people of his constituency. What a pressure. Something has to be done about this,” Modi is believed to have said.
On the other hand, some Rajya Sabha members came back worried after meeting the prime minister on the issue of KV admissions. “PM may be toying with the idea of scrapping of MPs quota in KVs admissions,” one of them murmured.
Two weeks later, Yellaiah and Reddy were in for a surprise when Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani assured the Lok Sabha that KV admissions through MPs quota would be hiked from five to 10. Yellaiah and Reddy’s request to Modi had not gone in vain.
They met Modi again with a request for sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes in Telangana. The prime minister assured them that he would have the matter “examined”.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s first time MP B Narsaiah Goud met Modi with a representation on the welfare of toddy tappers after the prime minister shared his experiences on their plight while he was Gujarat chief minister.
When West Bengal Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya bumped into Modi in the Parliament lobby, the prime minister took time out to receive a representation from him on the need for providing funds to PSUs in the state.
In another instance, an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP met the prime minister over problems in his constituency. The astute politician that Modi is, he was keen to know what was going on within the new party, especially the infighting among its senior leaders.
Modi, who has come under attack from the Opposition for being arrogant, is keen to show his better side. After the Lok Sabha passed the Land Boundary Bill, Modi went up to the Opposition benches to thank Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and other leaders. Later, he called chief ministers and party presidents of all major opposition parties to thank them for their support. This bonhomie may not translate into the Opposition supporting the government over the contentious Land Acquisition Bill, but it has gone a long way in comforting them that the the “brute” majority of the government is fast disappearing.