Concern about the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha from the Rajya Sabha is agitating the hearts and minds of legislators almost as powerfully as the proposed judicial appointments commission, which is actually a serious issue. The absence of MPs should be, too, but it isn’t, except when the crosshairs are on the 12 seats reserved in the Upper House for the extremely distinguished. Admittedly, Tendulkar’s attendance record is astoundingly low, at 3% since 2009 and Rekha is a hair’s breadth ahead at 5%. Not all that dreadful, actually, when juxtaposed against another PRS Legislative Research finding: one-third of legislators are absent more days than they are present.
Let us think positive: Tendulkar and Rekha have a life outside of politics. They are gainfully employed and will be in demand all their lives. What do elected MPs do when they play truant from Parliament? Besides, MPs may actually be wise to keep away from debates that might disinterest, baffle or embarrass them. The absence of actors Hema Malini and Tapas Paul from the Lok Sabha in the Budget session has been noticed, but perhaps they are simply conserving their energies for less taxing sessions. This liberal line of reasoning brings no relief to nominated MPs, though. They were supposed to work like Klieg lights and illuminate all matters of state. But then, should we be looking at attendance figures at all? Their success would be better judged by figures on how many private member’s Bills they have moved, how many questions they have raised and how many debates they have intervened in. Rekha and Tendulkar, of course, score zero on all three counts, according to PRS data. But what of the others?