Friday, August 31, 2012

House sittings: Modi has poor record

As the Gujarat assembly meets on Thursday for a one-day session before the state goes to polls later this year, the state’s longest-serving chief minister Narendra Modi (he complete 11 years in October) is facing criticism for holding the lowest yearly average of assembly sittings during his tenure.
Modi became chief minister in October 2001. Government records show that since then, the assembly has met only 327 times —about 30 days in a year. This is, by far, the lowest among all chief ministers of the state.
Jivraj Mehta, the first chief minister of the state, held the post for slightly over three years but the number of assembly sittings during his tenure was 170, an average of over 51 days in a year.
Even during the reign of Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was CM for just one year, the assembly had 33 sittings.
The Opposition Congress says the fall in number of assembly sittings during Modi’s rule reflects his attempt to subvert democracy. “This is subversion of democracy by the chief minister – an attempt to muzzle the Opposition. The number of assembly sittings has come down sharply from the days when Congress was in power, particularly since Modi became chief minister,” says Shaktisinh Gohil, leader of the Opposition in the assembly.
With Thursday’s one-day session, the total number of sittings of the 12th assembly would be 150 days. This will be the lowest for any of the 12 assemblies, which have lasted the full term, since the state came into existence in 1960.
The 11th assembly, which lasted from 2002 to 2007 and also had Modi as the CM, had 154 sittings.
The Opposition is angry with the government’s decision to convene only a single day session. However, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Pradipsinh Jadeja said, “ There is no additional important business to conduct in the House. This is why only a one-day session has been convened on the day of presidential voting.”
However, experts say that this is a sign of a rot in the functioning of the legislature in the country. “This is a sad sign. It shows that legislators do not take their legislative responsibilities seriously,” says Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, one of the founder-members of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).