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Getting better


Can it be described as the AAP effect, or is it just the natural evolution of legislative skills in a highly competitive political environment in Uttarakhand? Every session of the Vidhan Sabha sees an improving quality of debate among the members, particularly when Question Hour is allowed to continue unhindered. While some MLAs remain in suspended animation almost, many others have honed their skills to the point where their contributions to proceedings are truly positive. A government cannot but be on its toes under such scrutiny.

Interestingly, the Congress MLAs are not behind in cornering the government, which is a clear indication of the unresponsive nature of the establishment. It comes as a surprise that simple issues, which could have easily been dealt with in the offices of ministers and bureaucrats, have to be pursued so energetically in the House, even requiring the intervention of the Speaker. Why should that be – it is expected that members of the ruling coalition, particularly the main component, should have no difficulty in having their voice heard. How come this is not happening? Is government functioning so incoherent, or are things being run by a closed coterie that cares little for anything else except its own agenda?

It is also not unusual for regular upsurges to take place under the present dispensation. The recent furious speculation about the chief minister being changed is a symptom of this phenomenon. Bitter comments are being made on the state of affairs most frequently not by opposition MLAs so much as those of the ruling party. This every man for himself situation has prompted the legislators to try and win brownie points with the voters, rather than any other source of power. The red beacons have gone, the certainty of winning on a party ticket is no longer a given – it is only performance that will count in the face of most unexpected challenges from the most ‘aam’ of sources.

So, it is no longer unusual to hear statements on record such as, ‘The MLAs do not elect the Chief Minister, the High Command does!’ It clearly hints at a hankering for a more democratic set-up in the Congress. For the first time, senior MLAs are declaring themselves content with the position they have and leveraging their powers. Clearly, the definition of power, itself, is changing. If voters exercise their franchise with even greater autonomy at every opportunity, the much needed transformation among politicians would be a sure thing.

Even so, it will take a long time before improved functioning impacts on grassroots performance. There is still a lot of the envelope left to push. Old habits in old politicians die hard, obviously.