Few questions, low attendance: How celebrity MPs fared in the 17th Lok Sabha

Celebrity members of parliament +such as film stars, sportspersons and singers logged lower attendance, participated in fewer debates, asked fewer questions and introduced fewer private members’ bills in the 17th Lok Sabha, an IndiaSpend analysis of government data shows.

For this analysis, we considered 19 MPs based on the profession they had listed in their election affidavit. These professions include actor, singer-actor, artist, sportsman, director, folk singer, and other variations of these professions.

In the outgoing Lok Sabha, most celebrity MPs (10) belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party, followed by five MPs in the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).

As per a report by PRS Legislative Research, this Lok Sabha held a total of 274 sittings, which is the lowest number ever for a full five-year term. Only four Lok Sabhas had fewer sittings, but all of them were dissolved before completing the full term. The Covid-19 pandemic affected the number of sittings: In 2020, the house sat for only 33 days.

Low attendance

Celebrity MPs had an attendance of 56.7%, on average, our analysis of data compiled by PRS Legislative Research found. This is lower than the average for all MPs (79%).

Only four of the 19 celebrity MPs – all from the BJP – had attendance percentages above the national average: Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua” had 90% attendance; Bengali actor Locket Chatterjee had 88%, Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari had 85%, and Olympic medalist in shooting and a retired colonel in the Indian Army Rajyavardhan Rathore had 80%. Bengali actor Deepak (Dev) Adhikari had the lowest attendance (12%), up from 11% in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Other names on the list with low attendance are Hindi actor Ajay Singh Deol alias Sunny Deol (17%), Bengali actor and singer Mimi Chakraborty (21%), Bengali actor Nusrat Jahan Ruhi (39%), singer Hans Raj Hans (39%), Hindi actors Kirron Kher (47%) and Hema Malini (50%). Former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir logged 61% attendance.

Poor participation

Overall, celebrity MPs participated in few debates and discussions. Odia actor Anubhav Mohanty participated in the highest number of debates among the celebrity MPs (82), followed by Bhojpuri actor-singer Ravi Kishan (81).

Hindi actors Deol and Sinha did not participate in any debates. Adhikari participated in one debate, and Gambhir and Hans took part in three and four debates, respectively.

Questions asked

On average, MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha asked 210 questions each. Of the 19 celebrity MPs, only four asked as many or more than the national average: Ravi Kishan (480), Tiwari (395), Chatterjee (295) and Sumalatha Ambareesh (210).

Sinha did not ask any questions; Bengali actor-director Satabdi Roy Banerjee asked one question; folk singer Mohammad Sadique asked two; and Deol asked four questions.

Further, only four celebrity MPs introduced private members’ bills in Parliament: Ravi Kishan with 10 bills, followed by Anubhav Mohanty with three bills, Locket Chatterjee with two bills, and Gautam Gambhir with one bill.

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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