Believe it or not, Madhya Pradesh winter assembly sessions are getting shorter every year which observers say reflects a grim trend of the government trying to avoid a ‘hyper negative opposition’.
The record flashed on the state assembly website for the 11th, 12th and the 13th sessions indicate that the winter sessions are shrinking year after year.
A 51-day session with 26 sittings took place in 2000 during the 11th assembly in the Digvijaya Singh government while the shortest one of three days took place during the 12th assembly in 2007 during the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. But, this year, the session lasted for five days in the Chouhan regime, creating a new record of the second shortest session so far--proving that the BJP government goes for shorter sessions more than the Congress one.
But, how does a short-spanned house carry out its business? A senior political analyst says the government chooses to pass a majority of decisions through cabinet meetings, leaving the ‘too technical ones’ for the house rigmarole.
Political commentator Girija Shankar endorses this and says it is the government’s answer to an over-negative opposition which often obstructs the house business by staging walkouts and protests to gain media attention. And negative media publicity is what every government seeks to avoid. The shorter sessions suit the government, he says.
Narottam Mishra, minister for legislative affairs, however, plays it down a bit and says, “The days of a session are decided considering the business of the house. They could be increased or reduced according to business.”
In fact, a senior Congress leader and member of the business advisory committee, Sunderlal Tewari first skirts the issue with a technical reason and then bares the motive behind it.
He says, “Deciding upon the number of days of a session is the prerogative of the chief minister and the state government.”
The state government does not want discussions in the house. Therefore, it plans short sessions, says Tewari, adding that it seems MLAs are elected only to take salaries and avail themselves of other benefits.
Deputy leader of the opposition, Bala Bachchan, says, “We have raised the issue during the meeting of business advisory committee but the government does not pay a heed to any of our demands.”