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Legislative Effect

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The Winter Session of the State Assembly, beginning on 4 December, is slated to run for three days. The main agenda of business is obtaining approval for a supplementary budget of Rs 2175 crore. The Congress has promised to raise issues such as failure to respond effectively to the recent food poisoning deaths, the holding of assembly sessions in Gairsain, the differences within the ruling dispensation on where the state’s permanent capital will be sited, law and order, joblessness, etc., but going by its performance in the earlier sessions, this effort is going to be largely symbolic. The reason for this is the paucity of numbers in the House, and lack of legislative talent. It is only Leader of the Opposition Dr Indira Hridayesh and a couple of others who have made a mark, thus far. The absence of seasoned legislators like Navprabhat is being grievously felt.
As witnessed in earlier sessions of this assembly, greater pressure will be applied, actually, by members of the Treasury Benches. The ongoing internal politics in the BJP is likely to energise at least one section of ruling party legislators to try and embarrass the government. There is also the resentment being felt by members at lack of representation in the corridors of power, as well as neglect of their individual constituencies. Since, they do not have a share in power they cannot appreciate the priorities that may lie behind the allocation of resources.
It is also a matter of concern that the formulation of policies does not find root in the assembly. Discussions and debates of the kind that would enlighten the general public on the whys and wherefores of government decisions are few and far between. The House must contribute to better governance, which would, theoretically, also include the opposition. This requires openness to good ideas, no matter what the source. Unfortunately, this dimension has been lacking, with lack of receptivity on one side, and single-minded determination to oppose, on the other. This is evident from the increasing shortness of legislative sessions. It must also be noted that there are quite a few new entrants to the House, as well as young legislators, who could do with exposure to best practices through workshops and even trips to legislatures in other states and some democratic countries. It is important for them to understand the power a legislator potentially wields and the many ways the people can be served without actually being a part of government. Voters, too, should assess the performance of their representative in the House, rather than on everyday matters which are actually the responsibility of some petty government official.

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