Following is an article published in MINT – April 15, 2009
On debut, inheritors fell short of national performance average
Mint is reviewing key metrics of the Lok Sabha since 1952, based on a compilation by PRS Legislative Research, an independent research initiative. Today, in the second part, we review the influence of dynasty politics; the third part will focus on MPs who are not grass-roots politicians
New Delhi: With the month-long general election starting on Thursday, the widely debated issue of dynasty politics, and the expectations and hype surrounding young, first-time members of the Lok Sabha, are in focus. The performance of these members of Parliament, or MPs, most of whom belong to political families, is under the scanner after their first stint in Parliament.
According to data provided by PRS Legislative Research, a Delhi-based independent research agency, around one in 15 MPs in the Lok Sabha are first timers from political families whose close family members are, or have been, politicians. No MP on the list comes up to the national average on all four metrics—participation in parliamentary debates, number of private member Bills introduced, questions asked and attendance. Only Naveen Jindal, son of former state lawmaker and businessman O.P. Jindal, managed to match—and even better—the national average on three of the four indicators—he participated in 35 debates, asked 376 questions and had 71%, attendance compared with a national average of 30, 169 and 69%, respectively. None of these parliamentarians managed to introduce any private member Bill and touch the national average of 0.6%.
Among the more prominent faces, Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent of the Nehru-Gandhi legacy, fell short on all four metrics. Gandhi asked three questions, participated in five debates and had a 63% attendance record. Similarly, figures for BJP MP Yashodhara Raje Scindia, daughter of the late Vijaya Raje Scindia, were 23, one and 71% respectively; she, however, joined the 14th Lok Sabha only in March 2007.
Dushyant Singh (Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Jhalawar in Rajasthan), son of former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, performed better than the national average in asking 604 questions and participating in 46 debates, but could only manage a 63% attendance record. Congress MP Priya Dutt, daughter of the late Bollywood film star Sunil Dutt and sister of film star Sanjay Dutt, participated in four debates, asked 31 questions and had an attendance of less than 50%. Dutt was elected in a by-election in November 2005 after her father’s death.
Dayanidhi Maran, son of the late Murasoli Maran (a former Union minister) and himself a former Union minister for communications and information technology, participated in one debate, asked no questions and had a 10% attendance record. While Maran had the dubious distinction of recording the lowest attendance percentage in the list, Susheela Laxman Bangaru—wife of Bangaru Laxman, former BJP MP—who was elected from Jalore in Rajasthan, had the best attendance record of 91%.
The database compiled by PRS shows that of the 543 MPs in the House, seven members were sons/daughters of former or current chief ministers. These include Agatha K. Sangma (Tura constituency in Meghalaya), daughter of former Union minister and Meghalaya chief minister P.A. Sangma; Akhilesh Yadav (from Kannauj constituency in Uttar Pradesh), son of former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav; and Sandeep Dikshit (from East Delhi constituency), son of three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.