So which of your leaders are taking the business of representing you seriously? How many of them are bothering to ask pertinent questions at the Assembly, which could make crucial improvements to your existence? And which of them are sitting blankly, smugly complacent?
Every constituency elects an MLA, whose duty is to raise questions in the assembly in areas of his or her expertise. A survey done by NGO Praja shows that a total of the 11,049 questions asked by 32 MLAs from Mumbai in the assembly, the MNS has outperformed every other party. Six of its MLAs asked a total of 4,076 questions, of which most dealt with corruption and scams.
Fourteen MLAs of Congress, on the other hand, asked only 1,796. Almost as inquisitive and vociferous as MNS was its bitter opponent, Shiv Sena, with 4 MLAs asking 2,758 questions, and the BJP with 5 MLAs asking 2,186 questions.
The Samajwadi party, with just 1 MLA, accounted for 157 questions, whereas the NCP, with 2 MLAs, asked only 76 questions. Mumbai has 36 MLAs, four of whom are ministers.
Among individual MLAs, the maximum number of questions were asked by MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar, who raised 1,165 questions, accounting for over 10 per cent of the total questions asked by 32 MLAs.
Second to Nandgaonkar was MNS MLA Mangesh Sangle, who raised 923 questions. The least interested appeared to be Chandrakant Handore of Congress — with eight questions — and Bandra MLA Baba Siddiqui, with 22 questions.
The numbers also indicate that MLAs from the ruling parties, both junior and senior, asked very few questions in the assembly. Even a veteran MLA like Annie Shekhar asked a mere 24 questions, and a former Mumbai Congress chief asked only 35 questions. Congress MLA Baldev Singh Khosa from Andheri (West) asked only 27 questions.
Similarly, NCP MLAs asked only 38 questions each, including former minister Nawab Malik. BJP fared somewhat better, with party leader Yogesh Sagar asking 546 questions and Sardar Tara Singh asking 645 questions. Even the Sena did well, with leader Subhash Desai asking 868 questions and Vinod Ghosalkar asking 716 questions in the assembly. The lone MLA of the Samajwadi Party Abu Asim Azmi asked 157 questions in the house.
Most of the questions were raised about corruption and scams, reflecting the ruling thought in the present political climate. A total of 3,033 questions were asked about corruption within the ranks, a majority by MNS leaders at 1,519. The Sena asked 627 questions, the BJP 462, and the Congress a mere 395. The Samajwadi party asked 20 questions and NCP a mere 10.
Speaking on the matter, MNS MLA Ram Kadam said, “These figures clearly show who is the real Opposition – we may be fewer in number in the assembly, but we do not shirk our basic responsibility of asking questions on behalf of our people. In the house, we use our intellect.”
Milinde Mhatre, project director for Praja Foundation, said, “The average is high only because four MLAs have asked more than 600 questions, with Bala Nandgaonkar having asked the maximum. While 10 MLAs have raised less than 100 issues, with Chandrakant Handore raising only eight questions, half of the 32 MLAs have raised less than 200 questions. The data seems to suggest that these 10 MLAs are either not aware or not interested in performing their primary constitutional role.”
He added, “Aren’t we, the citizens, voting and sending people’s representative to their constitutional positions expecting them to perform their constitutional duties and address issues of their constituencies? If this is the state of MLAs from a prime city of our country after 65 years of democracy, what would be the state in the rest of India?”
MLAs also asked about…
The other areas in which a maximum number of questions were raised include crime (1,315) civic issues (1415). Only 66 questions were asked on financial institutions, and 118 on the revenue department. Social- cultural concerns took a back seat in the assembly with just 241 questions asked on the same. Only 220 questions were asked by the MLAs on the issue of transport.
Average questions by every party per MLA