New Delhi: The participation of younger parliamentarians in debates during the recently-concluded monsoon session of parliament was slightly lower than the average for all MPs and did not measure up to the hope invested in them, data on the session shows.
According to data compiled by think tank PRS Legislative Research, each MP under 45 years in age participated in 2.2 debates against the general average of 2.9 for the session.
The average attendance of younger MPs in the session was 77 percent, marginally lower than the general average of 80 percent.
In asking questions, however, younger MPs were slightly ahead of their seniors, with each asking an average of 28 queries against the overall average of 25.
The expectations of them are high. "We are disillusioned by the old ones, especially after seeing how they attempted to crush the anti-corruption movement, but the young MPs seem promising." Delhi university student Rajiv Bhatnagar says.
However, a look at the overall performance of the 15th Lok Sabha -- which has seen seven sessions including the one just concluded -- shows some of the best known names performing under par.
The Congress' projected prime minister Rahul Gandhi has been conspicuous by his absence, with only 43 percent. Gandhi, who is a party general secretary, has participated only in one debate against an overall average of 18.7.
In asking questions, he has a dismal zero, according to data available.
The other Gandhi junior, Varun Gandhi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, fared better with 64 percent attendance. He participated in two debates, asked a whopping 389 questions, and has one private members bill to his credit.
The overall average for asking questions is 119 in the 15th Lok Sabha, while the overall average for debates is 15.6 per member.
However, many of the young stalwarts -- including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitin Prasada, Sachin Pilot and Agatha Sangma -- were not accounted for as they hold ministerial posts.
Ministers do not sign the attendance register, as they represent the government in parliament; they do not ask questions, participate in debates as ordinary members or introduce private members bills.
The speaker and deputy speaker follow similar conventions. The leader of the opposition does not sign the attendance register but does take part in all other activities.
Among the other well-known young members, the BJP's 37-year-old Anurag Singh Thakur has 87 percent attendance. He has participated in 39 debates and asked 337 questions.
Siromani Akali Dal's 45-year-old Harsimrat Kaur Badal has 78 percent attendance; he participated in 13 debates and asked 135 questions.
In the Congress, Priya Dutt, the northcentral Mumbai MP who replaced her father Sunil Dutt after his death, has an attendance average of 62 percent. She has participated in eight debates and asked 74 questions.
Another young scion, Jaganmohan Reddy of the Y.S.R. Congress, has 59 percent attendance but has neither participated in debates nor asked questions.