MPs fume as Narendra Modi cancels their trip to UNGA session

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 11 2014, 17:20pm hrs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to junk a long-standing tradition of sending a multi-party delegation of MPs to the United Nations General Assembly. Taken at the last minute, the decision to discontinue the practice has left political parties red-faced, and parliamentarians crossed with the treatment meted out to them.

According to norms, the Ministry of External Affairs proposed to send a mix of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members from across parties to participate in the 69th regular session of UNGA. The MPs were to visit the US in three batches, with the first batch scheduled to attend committee meetings in New York during October 6-17. The second batch was scheduled to be there from October 20-31 and the third from November 3-14.

M Venkaiah Naidu, Cabinet Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, wrote letters to various political parties to nominate MPs in the first week of September. In all, about 15-20 MPs were nominated by their respective parties.

Modi did not clear the proposal before departing for a five-day official visit to the US beginning September 26. Many hoped he would clear the proposal upon his return on October 1. But he decided otherwise. When contacted, Congress Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik said they were planning to leave for New York on the intervening night of October 5-6. Our names were taken by the government, we were awaiting PMO concurrence. I was told at the last minute that the PM has not cleared the proposal. He regretted that a historical tradition has been given a miss. This is not a junket; it gives parliamentarians international exposure, he added. There are six main committees of the UNGA: disarmament and international security; economic and financial; social, humanitarian and cultural; special political and decolonisation; administrative and budgetary, and legal. Each UN member can nominate one person to each of the six committees. Some MPs, who were not from New Delhi, had left their passports in the capital just in case the MEA called for it suddenly. But the parliamentary affairs ministry informed most of them on Wednesday that India would not send its MPs delegation for the 69th session.