Sonia seeks explanation from MPs who missed parliament (Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 1 ( Congress president Sonia Gandhi has sought an explanation from party MPs on their absence from the Lok Sabha Monday when question hour virtually collapsed because of missing members, a party official said Tuesday.

Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Paban Singh Ghatowar, who has been tasked to contact the absentee MPs, told IANS: “I am contacting them to know the reason (for their absence).”

Ghatowar said some MPs said they were absent as their trains had arrived late.

A Congress leader not willing to be quoted said that the party president had taken a strong note of Monday’s incident. He said the absentee MPs have been asked to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the collapse of question hour Monday was “unfortunate, very regretful and a rare aberration”.

But he stressed that the party MPs did not usually take their work lightly. “It was not intentional. We know that the country is watching us. This will not be repeated,” he said.

Asked if Sonia Gandhi had taken strong note of the absenteeism and if disciplinary action would be taken against the erring MPs, Singhvi said the party had established procedures to deal with such instances.

“Leave it to us. We have established procedures,” he said.

Congress MP Shruti Choudhary, who was among the absentees, said: “It was a lesson to learn.”

Other Congress MPs who were not present included Harsh Vardhan, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, Anto Antony, Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Maadam, P.T. Thomas, Kodikkunnil Suresh, Jhansi Lakshmi and Eknath Gaikawad. They were among the 34 MPs with questions listed against their names who were not in the house during question hour Monday.

Congress MP Priya Dutt also said that the collapse of question hour was unfortunate. “The question hour is the most interesting part of the proceedings where the questions raised are answered directly,” she said.

Anurag Thakur, BJP MP from Hamirpur, who also figured in the list of absentees during the question hour Monday, said the Shatabdi train he was travelling in had been delayed.

“It reached at 10.45 p.m.,” he told Inditop. Thakur said about five questions are taken up during question hour and his query was listed eighth.

“What happened was unfortunate,” he said, adding there were instructions from the party to attend the house regularly.

BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said that following Monday’s collapse of question hour, party MPs have been told that they should be present in the House if they have submitted questions. He added that MPs who were absent Monday had explained their position to the party leadership.