BJP lawmakers get an earful from Rajnath Singh. It is PM Modi’s message

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unhappy with many Bharatiya Janata Party MPs skipping sittings of Parliament despite his repeated caution, and members need to take their job more seriously, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told ruling party’ parliamentarians on Tuesday.

“Prime Minister has spoken time and again about the lack of discipline among MPs when it comes to attending Parliament,” Singh told lawmakers at the weekly meeting of the BJP parliamentary party.

The senior minister told the lawmakers that the Prime Minister is “dissatisfied that situation hasn’t changed despite his repeated advice”.

The last one was in July this year when PM Modi, particularly upset at lawmakers absenting themselves from the House had severely reprimanded them. How would you feel, PM Modi had asked them, if he or Amit Shah promised to attend a public meeting in their constituency but never turned up.

Senior BJP leaders had hoped that the sharp rebuke would nudge lawmakers – 133 of the BJP’s 303 MPs are first-timers – to get into the habit of scrupulously attending parliament sittings.

Rajnath Singh’s reprimand is timed days before the government attempts to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that fast-tracks citizenship for religious minorities living in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Defence Minister reminded lawmakers about the politically-crucial bills that will come up for discussion in parliament.

“Several important bills will be taken up in the coming days and all of you need to remain present in the house,” the senior minister said.

Singh said party MPs should remain present in large numbers when Home Minister Amit Shah tables the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, as he asserted that this draft legislation is as important as the move to abrogate Article 370.

Singh also dismissed opposition’s objections about the bill and said BJP has always worked to unite the country and its people.

Woman and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani also spoke, highlighting the efforts of her ministry to fight malnutrition among pregnant women and infants.