Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today was conspicuous by his absence at a joint group photograph of members of both the Houses to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Parliament as he was not informed.
Sources said the information about the photo-op was put up by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on its website as part of its agenda but there was no separate communication to the office of Mukherjee, who is also the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.
"Lok Sabha secretariat and Rajya Sabha secretariat give information through their bulletin. I see the bulletins regularly and this (the group photograph session) has come several times. I cannot say anything more than that," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said.
Not really pcture-perfect: Pranab Mukherjee (File photo)
Members from across the political spectrum equally expressed their surprise over Mukherjee's absence from the photo session. "He is a respectable leader and we would had been happy had he been in the joint photo session," BJP MP Tarun Vijay said, adding that either Congress or Parliament will have to explain his absence.
Regretting his absence, JDU member Sushil Singh said, "If he (Mukherjee) was not informed, then it was very unfortunate." BJD leader P K Patsani said the Finance Minister should have been in the photo session as "he is the best manager in the treasury side".
While Harsimrat Kaur Badal of Shiromani Akali Dal said they were left wondering about his absence, Ajay Kumar of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha said Mukherjee is an important leader of Parliament and his absence was felt.
Kuldeep Bishnoi of Haryana Janhit Congress said it should be found out whether there was a communication gap which led to his absence. "Definitely we missed him on this special occasion," he said. Congress MPs Jagadambika Pal and Sanjay Bhoi also missed the senior leader's absence in the photo session, while Somen Mitra of Trinamool Congress said he also felt his absence.