By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Sept 16: An Assembly session is essentially a mirror that reflects aspirations of people of a State, functioning of the government in it and its machineries, participation of Opposition parties and of each and every member of the House. Do all members of the august house take all these issues with the right earnestness? A million dollar question!
The Assam Assembly had its September Session from September 4 to15, 2017. The recent events of the august house are still fresh, and here is no question of the memories of those associated with the House not serving them. Information collected from the monitoring system of the House does speak as to how attentive the members of the House in the business are. Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal, according to the information collected, was absent for four days when the House was in its September Session. While former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was absent in the House for four days during the last just-concluded session, his predecessor Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was absent for three days. While State BJP president Ranjit Kumar Dass was absent for two days from the House, Congress MLA Abdul Rashid Mandal was not present for a single in the Assembly in its recent session, AIUDF MLA Abdul Rahim Ajmal attended the Assembly session only for three days, BJP MLA Bolin Chetia was absent for four days, zrul Islam of the Congress was absent for five days, BJP MLA Prab Kalita was absent for three days, Wazed Ali Choudhury of the Congress was absent for five days and Ramakanta Deori of the BJP was absent for three days. Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Dilip Paul and BJP MLA Binod Hazarika could not attend the Assembly for a single day. Assam Assembly Principal Secretary Mrigendra Kumar Deka said: “The system for attendance of members of the House as we follow is marking present against a member as soon as he/she sits on his/her seat. When a member is not seen in the House during its entire business, we mark absent against his/her me. While the Deputy Speaker remained absent during this session due to ill health of his wife, Binod Hazarika could not attend the session due to death of his brother. Both of them have their respective leave granted from the Speaker.”
Each of the MLAs gets Rs 1,500 allowance a day when the Assembly is in session, besides fuel charge of Rs 8 per km on the very first day and the concluding day of the session for coming from and going to his/her constituency. According to an official of the Assam Legislative Assembly, the amount is computed in according with the attendance of the members during Assembly session.
What yardstick can be adopted for measuring the effective participation of Assembly members? Of course, attendance alone is not. There may be many other factors that should be taken into confidence. However, one can guess from the responses from some sections of people who do attend the Assembly to observe its proceedings. Such people include students and other groups.
Overall responses from such observers and MLAs of both the ruling parties and their Opposition counterparts make it crystal clear that the Assembly fails to send a strong message to the people. College students and other attendants feel that the House needs much to do to get the desired results. Even a section of members of the House, cutting across party lines, seems to be evasive on their role in making Assembly sessions more successful. Some ruling party members want to say that they have limited scope to raise issues on the floor of the House, and much depends on Opposition members who can raise any issue without any hesitation. Some Opposition members, on the other hand, say that they need to raise issues on the floor of the House amidst rules like Question Hour, Zero Hour, Cut Motion and other devices, that allow them very limited time space. However, this time around, the Speaker took an initiative on his own – Speaker’s Initiative – that let them sufficient time to deliberate on a particular issue – the issue of Tea Tribe – this year for the first time, a number of members of the House said.