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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Maha polls: MLAs’ report card

mumbai Updated: Sep 30, 2019 00:23 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman and Eeshanpriya MS
Tanushree Venkatraman and Eeshanpriya MS
Hindustantimes
         

How did your MLA perform over the past five years? Which MLA and party were the city’s best performers? Ahead of the elections, when sitting MLAs across party lines are likely to approach you for votes, it is time to review their performance.

According to Mumbai-based Praja Foundation, which releases a report card on the performance of the MLAs in the city every year, the Congress performed the best, with an average score of 73.57, followed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which scored 62.08 points, and Shiv Sena, BJP’s ruling ally in the state government, with 58.78 points.

The foundation scores MLAs over various parameters such as attendance, number of questions asked, quality of questions and use of their area development funds. The MLAs got negative marking for new FIRs after the 2014 election or on pending charge sheet. Praja gets the details under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The parties are scored by summing up the performance of all MLAs. It also conducts a survey among 22,845 Mumbaiites every year to gauge their assessment on the MLAs’ accessibility/availability, corruption, performance and satisfaction, with the quality of services provided by the government.

Of Mumbai’s 36 MLAs, 15 are from the BJP, 14 from Sena, five from Congress and one each represent All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the Samajwadi Party. The report, however, has taken only 32 MLAs into account, excluding Sena’s Ravindra Waikar and BJP’s Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta and Vidya Thakur as they are ministers in the Fadnavis government.

2014-19: UPS AND DOWNS

According to the Constitution, an elected representative is mandated to attend sessions, raise people’s issues, participate in discussions and pass legislation. The data provided by Praja on the top-performing MLAs in the five-year term of the BJP-Sena government has four MLAs from the Congress, four from the BJP and two from the Sena.

Congress’s Amin Patel, a legislator from Mumbadevi, has topped the list, followed by Sunil Prabhu from Sena, who represents Dindoshi, and Malad MLA Aslam Shaikh from the Congress. Four of the five Congress MLAs are also among the top 10 legislators of 2019.

Milind Mhaske, project co-ordinator at Praja, said, “This is a reflection of a progressive democracy where the opposition raises more issues and debates in the house.”

Patel, who has won the 2009 and 2014 elections, said the party successfully raised issues pertaining to Mumbai and Maharashtra in the five years. “It is the support of the people of Maharashtra which has helped us perform,” Patel said.

Of the MLAs who performed the worst or in the bottom 10 in the past five years, seven are from the Sena, two from the BJP and one each from the AIMIM and SP.

Madhav Bhandari, BJP spokesperson, said, “We are satisfied that four of the top 10 MLAs in Mumbai are from the BJP, more so considering we have 15 MLAs in Mumbai. The party also monitors performance of the MLAs thoroughly. There is a mechanism within the party to do so. We also try to help them enhance their performance by conducting training sessions and appointing trained assistants for them.”

QUALITY OF LIFE

Although the Congress MLAs have performed better in terms of average score, the survey reveals that the perceived quality of life in the city has improved in 2019, compared to 2014 (the last year of the five-year term of the previous Congress-NCP government).

According to the data, 68% respondents said there is an improvement in their lives compared to 60% in 2014, the last year of the previous regime. “If we compare this to the performance of the MLAs, their scores have improved to 64% in 2019, from 59% in 2014,” said Mhaske.

Around 60% people also said the MLAs are more accessible (2019) compared to 33% people who said the MLAs were accessible in 2014. In 2019, 92% of the respondents in the constituencies of the top six MLAs said their quality of life has improved, while only 44% respondents of the bottom six MLAs said that their lives have improved.

The BJP credited this to the infrastructure works undertaken in the city in the past five years. Bhandari said, “This is the effect of the numerous infrastructure works we have undertaken. The BJP is working hard to improve Mumbai’s infrastructure via the Metro projects. In fact, the BJP-ruled Central government is also providing aid to improve connectivity in Mumbai and Maharashtra.”

Although there has been an overall improvement, the survey notes the number of questions raised in the Assembly has dropped by 42% between the two terms. While 38,618 questions were asked in the last term, 22,345 questions were asked in the current term.

The average number of questions per MLA has seen a drastic decrease from 1,207 in the last term to 698 this term.

The foundation, which started releasing performance reports in 2011, has looked at a co-relation between the MLAs’ performances and the perceived quality of life in their constituency. For instance, the overall scores of the MLAs fell to 59% in 2018 from 61% in 2017 and the perceived quality of life also fell to 65% in 2019 from 66% in 2018.

“It is important to look at the performance of individual MLAs, apart from party considerations, to make a better and informed choice about who would be ideal to work for citizens,” said Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja foundation.

OTHER PARAMETERS

According to the five-year data, the 32 MLAs, on an average, utilised ₹8.5 crore of their MLA local area development funds, as of March 2019. All MLAs are given this fund that can be spent as per their discretion on certain specified development work in the constituencies. Every MLA gets a sanctioned fund of ₹2 crore per financial year, which is expected to be utilised in a planned and phased manner.

The survey that ranked MLAs negatively for criminal records notes that nine MLAs from Sena and six MLAs from BJP had FIRs/charge sheets against them between October 2014 and December 2018.

However, most MLAs have performed well in the corruption index. In 2014, the overall score of 32 MLAs in perceived least corrupt category was 6.2, which improved to 8.6 (as per Praja scores) in 2019. A quick look at the corruption index of all MLAs through the five years shows an improvement with most MLAs scoring above 5, which, Mhaske said, was a good sign.

First Published: Sep 30, 2019 00:23 IST

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