In the two years that he has been a member of Rajya Sabha, actor Mithun Chakraborty has attended Parliament for all of three days.
On Tuesday, some MPs were not too happy after yet another leave request from the star landed with Deputy Chairman P J Kurien. He has failed to turn up for the seventh consecutive session of the Upper House, the MPs pointed out — sometimes after submitting a leave application, at times without even that.
Chakraborty was sent to Rajya Sabha by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in April 2014. He marked his presence in the House in his first two sessions — for two days in the 231st session, and a solitary day during the 232nd session. The current session of the Rajya Sabha is its 239th session, and when Chakraborty’s application for grant of leave of absence was read out by Kurien, Naresh Agrawal of Samajwadi Party and K C Tyagi of the JD(U) raised objection. How can a person who is pursuing professional work outside the House not find time to attend its proceedings, they asked.
Chakraborty had submitted a leave application for a part of 232nd session, and for the 236th session. But whether an application had been given or not, he remained absent — like some of his other celebrity counterparts such as Rekha and Sachin Tendulkar. Chakraborty is yet to speak in the House, and the charge that he had been shooting for at least some of the time during which he has stayed away from the House is not denied by senior TMC leaders.
The star has also had health concerns, having undergone at least one orthopaedic surgery, TMC leaders pointed out. However, the buzz within the party is that he became more reluctant to make an appearance after his alleged ties with the Saradha Group came to the fore.
Efforts to reach Chakraborty on the mobile number listed on the Rajya Sabha website drew a blank. It was answered by one Aarti, who said she works for him. “I am not aware of any of this,” she said.
A senior TMC leader said: “When he was sent to Rajya Sabha, he had told Didi (West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee) that he would not be able to give too much time. Didi had told him that he could come once in a while. That’s what (Lok Sabha MP and fellow actor) Deb does, too…But then Saradha happened.”
The TMC leader claimed that Chakraborty is “such a transparent individual” that he “returned to the Enforcement Directorate Rs 1 crore, or whatever he had been paid by a channel affiliated to the Saradha Group. But as often happens, he became socially reclusive, especially after derogatory reports in the media.” The TMC, meanwhile, is not taking too kindly to aspersions cast on its MP. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, party chief whip in the Upper House, said, “If any member of any political party falls sick and seeks leave of absence from the House, there is hardly any precedence where it was not granted.”
Kurien has granted the actor-MP permission to remain absent.