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Speaker's Initiative: Will it come to fruition or fizzle out?



By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Sept 12: The Assam Legislative Assembly (ALA) scripted a precedent by incorporating a new agenda – Speaker’s Initiative – in the House proceedings on Tuesday. Will the initiative come to fruition or fizzle out? This is certainly worthy of keeping tabs on.
So far so good! The discussion on ‘Speaker’s Initiative’ began at 10.30 am, soon after the Question Hour on Tuesday. In the morning sitting, it continued till 2 pm when the Speaker announced the lunch break with a tag that the discussion on the issue would resume at 3 pm.
The topic of Speaker’s Initiative as chosen by the Speaker himself was ‘Tea Tribes’. The discussion was quite cordial with the members of the Treasury and the Opposition benches not seen engaged themselves in any undue altercations. The usual blame-game seen in any discussion or debate in the House was not seen this time around, and the credit for this, in all honest and goodness, goes to the Speaker.
An elated Speaker was heard saying: “Maybe, this House has scripted a precedent in the country. If the efforts taken come to fruition, we need to continue this trend set by us. If it doesn’t come to fruition, we’ve no reason to waste the valuable time of the Assembly.”
Cutting across party affiliation, the members of the Assembly appreciated the move as they felt that only detailed discussion can find out something tangible on issues. The members had a detailed discussion of Tea Tribes, who had been brought to Assam for tea plantation by the British, and problems afflicting them in the State now.
However, the afternoon sitting for the discussion on ‘Tea Tribe’ faced some initial hiccups. Even as the warning bell was rung, the attendance in the House was below the quorum which stands at 21, one-sixth of total strength of the House – 126 members. The situation led to the ringing of the warning bell several times so as to draw the attention of the members of the House. The entire exercise cost 12 minutes of the valuable time of the House. The afternoon sitting for discussion on the topic started at 3.12 pm, instead of 3 pm.
The loss of 12 minutes is viewed by many as lack of enthusiasm among the members of the House to carry forward the innovative initiative taken up by the Speaker from his end. If the ‘Speaker’s Initiative’ comes to fruition or fizzles out largely depends of the willpower of the members of the House and parties they are affiliated to.
The Speaker was on record telling the media on Sunday that the government would have to submit a comprehensive report on the issue discussed within 90 days, and the report would be made available to each and every MLA. The outcome of this initiative is something that needs to be kept tabs on in the Assembly sessions henceforth. The outcome depends on the members, the government and the Speaker himself.