PNS | New Delhi
As five states go to polls, data compiled by a think tank showed that these state assemblies — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram — met for less than 30 days a year and the number of sittings have been going down over the years.
The Rajasthan assembly met for 29 days in a year on an average and the Telangana assembly for 15 days, according to a report by PRS Legislative Research. Between 2019 and 2023, average sittings of the assembly in Chhattisgarh was 23 days a year, with average sitting time being five hours.
The Madhya Pradesh assembly had sittings for 16 days, around four hours a day on average, and the Mizoram assembly sat for 18 days, with each sitting being around five hours, it stated.
The Election Commission on Monday announced the assembly poll schedule for these five states, to be held between November 7 and 30. Single-phase assembly polls will be held in Madhya Pradesh on November 17, Rajasthan on Nov 23, Telangana on Nov 30 and Mizoram on Nov 7, while Chhattisgarh will vote in two phases on Nov 7 (20 seats) and 17 (70 seats).
According to the PRS Legislative Research report, the Rajasthan assembly had the highest number of sittings among these five states – around 29 days per year, and each sitting was around seven hours long.
In four of the five states for which long-term data is available, sittings have reduced over time, it stated. In their first 10 years, the Rajasthan assembly, on average, met for 59 days a year, while the MP assembly met for 48 days a year. In the last 10 years, the average annual sitting days have declined to 29 in Rajasthan and 21 in MP.
Telangana had its highest sittings in 2017 37 days. However, in every year since then, it met for less than 20 days. Around 48 per cent of bills in these state assemblies were considered and passed on the same day or the day after introduction. Mizoram passed 57 bills during its current term, all on the same day or the day after introduction.
Citing examples, the report stated that in 2020, the Chhattisgarh assembly passed 14 bills in a single six-hour sitting. In Madhya Pradesh, 13 bills were introduced and passed over two days in 2022, and both sittings together lasted for five hours.
A large number of ordinances were also issued by these states. Between 2019 and 2023, Madhya Pradesh issued 39 ordinances, followed by Telangana (14) and Rajasthan (13).
In MP, 11 ordinances were issued in 2020, when the assembly met for only six days. Of these, six lapsed without being replaced by bills. Ordinances issued increased to 14 in 2021, when the assembly met for 20 days.
States issue ordinances when the assemblies are not in session.
The report also stated that the Rajasthan assembly did not elect a deputy speaker through its term. Madhya Pradesh has not had a deputy speaker since March 2020 when there was a change in the government.
The report also said 17 per cent of members in the Chhattisgarh assembly are women.
This proportion is 13 per cent in Rajasthan and less than 10 per cent in Madhya Pradesh.
In Chhattisgarh, women MLAs had 93 per cent attendance, men had around 88 per cent; in Madhya Pradesh, women MLAs had 79 per cent attendance, and men had 81 per cent, while in Rajasthan, women MLAs had 77 per cent attendance on average and men had 82 per cent.
In Rajasthan, the average participation of male and female members in debates is almost equal, it stated.