Amid major row over property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani’s son Darshan “uploading question for Mahua Moitra to raise in Parliament”, the Lok Sabha has reportedly blocked access of MPs’ aides to the Digital Sansad portal and apps. This won’t let others, except the lawmakers, to submit travel bills, access MPs’ official email or file notices for questions in the House.
The difficulty that may now arise is that all lawmakers do not have the equal qualifications or skill sets, and are often dependent on their assistants and secretaries.
A report by PRS Legislative Research in 2019 stated that about 75 per cent of MPs in the Lok Sabha have at least a graduate degree, while 10 per cent are only matriculates.
A similar report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW) this year said that while 184 MPs were graduates, 141 were professional graduates. Only one MP was illiterate.
With the Lok Sabha members now expected to handle their own digital parliamentary functions, the latest development could be a tall order.
Reacting to this, a report in Times of India quoted its source as saying, “At best, the members can sit beside their assistants or secretaries, sharing the passwords and OTPs to get their work done. Most MPs are still using this ‘unofficial’ method to participate.
The same TOI report mentioned that the LS secretariat is learnt to have blocked access of MPs’ secretaries and personal assistants to the Digital Sansad portal and apps to facilitate the members’ routine functions like submission of questions to be asked in the House, accessing emails and submitting TA bills.
The access is now restricted to the MP. However, the secretariat has not yet issued any notification on the restrictions on access, the report added.
With Digital Sansad coming into use since September 1, members were allowed to authorise assistants or secretaries to access their accounts by submitting the email IDs and phone numbers of their authorised personnel to the Lok Sabha secretariat, the publication mentioned.
The changes came after some shocking revelations by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra. The lawmaker not only accepted that she gave her Parliament login and password to Darshan Hiranandani, but also revealed that her sister’s child logged in from Cambridge and typed in her questions.
She said that no MP puts the questions themselves, and the login and the passwords remain with their team. “But then an OTP comes and it comes to my phone only. It does not go to Darshan’s phone. Only when I provide the OTP, the questions are submitted,” Moitra had said.
With inputs from News18