Under-developed districts are hardly represented in the Vidhan Sabha whereas developed cities dominate.
A social audit of the outgoing Maharashtra assembly by Sampark NGO
In the proceedings of Maha assembly constituted in 2014, total no of questions raised from all 9 districts with low HDI is almost half of the number of questions collectively raised from Mumbai, Mumbai suburban and Thane district. Among the 36 districts, Mumbai suburban district raised the highest number of questions, which was 1,003 whereas Nandurbar, the district with the lowest HDI in the State raised just one question. The outgoing Vidhan Sabha saw 2,957 questions raised by the ruling BJP; which was the maximum number of questions raised among all the political parties. Next is the Congress with 2,549 questions.
This is what has emerged from social analysis carried out by Mumbai based NGO Sampark, of the Qs raised by all the 288 Maharashtra MLAs during all the sessions of the Legislative Assembly from 2014 to 2018. Sampark scrutinised a total of 9,835 Qs raised under the tools of starred questions, calling attention motions and one-half hour discussion. The source of this information was the website of Maharashtra legislature and published reports of the Assembly proceedings. The purpose of the study is to keep the citizens abreast of the kind of and the number of questions their elected representatives raise on their behalf on the floor of the Assembly.
The study reveals that the nine districts with the lowest HDI in the State have negligible representation on the floor of the Assembly. Looking at it from another angle, we find that ‘Mumbai’ get a mention 1,067 times and Nandurbar 14 times in these 9,538 questions. Among the analysed issues with some social relevance, the subject of water was at the top with 731 questions and Women’s issues at the bottom with 73 questions. Question on education numbered 620, health 567, children 338 and those on unemployment 97. Of 288 MLAs; Radhakrushna Vikhe Patil and Vijay Vadettiwar have raised more than 200 questions and there are 13 MLAs who have raised over 100 questions.
Dilip Sopal, Shivendrasingh Bhosle, Ram Kadam, Uday Samant, KC Padavi, Udaysingh Padavi, Vijaykumar Gavit and Kashiram Pawra, are the eight MLAs whose name does not appear at the head of a single question.
Of the seven social subjects studied, the Congress has asked the highest number of questions on five of them; viz. health, education, agriculture, water and children; whereas BJP has asked the highest number of questions on malnutrition, unemployment and questions about the policy. PWP, NSP, MIM, RPI BM, BSP and CPM did not raise a single question related to child issues. PWP, BVA, SP, MNS, RPI BM and CPM did not ask any question about women. Deepika Patil, Congress MLA from Baglan, dist Nashik was the MLA who asked the highest number of questions on women’s issues. She is also the only MLA with 100 per cent attendance in all the sessions. Shivendrasingh Bhosle, NCP MLA from Satara had the lowest attendance of 37 per cent.
The belief that the more the number of MLAs, the higher the number of questions does not seem to hold good here. Three MLAs of PWP have asked as many as 172 questions. One MLA each from NSP and SP has asked 51 and 49 questions respectively. Congress has 21 MLAs less than those of Shivsena, but they have asked 113 questions more as compared to Shivsena MLAs.
Similarly, the logic that lower number of constituencies will correspond to lesser questions also fails. Hingoli with three constituencies has to its credit, double the number of questions asked by MLAs from Osmanabad with four constituencies. 54 more questions have come from Chandrapur district with six constituencies as compared to Nagpur with double the number of constituencies.
The subjects that are repeated over and over again are vacant posts, delayed projects, scheme scams, demand for CT scan machine or a trauma centre at the Government hospital, unauthorised sand mining, illegal constructions, pollution by MIDC, irregularities in redevelopment, investor frauds, scams in District cooperative banks and river pollution.
In response to these trends in the Assembly, Sampark has constituted bodies of local, concerned citizens called ‘Amdar Samvad Manch’ in seven constituencies; the purpose being promoting better discussion on issues from the districts with low HDI.
Medha Kulkarni 9833518713 / Mrunalini Jog 982050478 / Hemant Karnik 9821550498