The outgoing 15th Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly is leaving behind some numbers that its members will not be proud of. Not only did the Assembly sit for an average of only 16 days a year – compared to 27 days in the previous term and 33 in the term before that – its speaker, parliamentary affairs minister and leader of opposition had low attendance.
Also, despite Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan stating in a written reply that nearly 78,000 children in the state were found to be malnourished in the first three months of this year, women and child development accounted for the lowest number of questions asked in the Assembly.
Out of the 29,484 questions asked in the Assembly, the highest number (2,205) were on urban development and housing, followed by panchayat and rural development (2,056) and revenue (1,997). The number of questions asked on women and child development, in contrast, was just 735.
Attendance Highs & Lows
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on the performance of MLAs in the current MP Vidhan Sabha, legislators from the ruling BJP cornered all the top five slots in terms of attending the most number of sittings in the past five years.
Of the 79 sittings held, Kunwarji Kothar, ex-minister Harishankar Khatik, Dilip Singh Parihar, Shyam Lal Dwivedi and Sudesh Rai attended 97%, or 77 sittings. Of these five MLAs, however, the BJP has denied tickets to two – Shyamlal Dwivedi (Teothar-Rewa) and Kunwarji Kothar (Sarangpur-SC).
Close to the other end of the spectrum were Vidhan Sabha speaker Girish Gautam of the BJP, who had an attendance of 34%, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra of the BJP, with 20%, and leader of opposition Dr Govind Singh of the Congress, whose attendance figure was 37%.
In terms of parties, the BSP with just two MLAs (one of whom switched over to the BJP in July 2022) and SP with just one MLA (who also joined the BJP the same month) attended an average of 65 out of the 79 sittings, followed by the BJP, whose members attended an average of 46 sittings. The Congress was very close behind, with its MLAs attending an average of 43 sittings.
The BJP did well in terms of asking questions as well, with four of its MLAs featuring in the top five in terms of the maximum number of queries posed in the Vidhan Sabha.
While former minister Rampal Singh topped with 390 questions, journalist-turned-third-time MLA from Mandsaur seat Yashpal Singh Sisodiya was close behind with 387 questions. The two other BJP MLAs in the list were Umakant Sharma with 381 questions and Rajendra Pandey with 377 questions. The lone Congress MLA was doctor-turned-first-time legislator Dr Hiralal Alawa, a tribal, who asked 383 questions.
When it came to the average number of questions asked by various parties, the two-MLA-strong BSP asked an average of 143 questions, Congress MLAs asked an average of 132 questions and those of the BJP asked an average of 93 questions.
The Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly sat for an average of only 16 days per year, with a high of 26 sittings in 2019 and a low of only four sittings in Covid-hit 2020.