Insights of Himachal Pradesh Assembly Election 2017
Campaigning for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh elections end today. Voting is scheduled to be held on 9 November. In this assembly, there are 36 MLAs from the Indian National Congress, 29 MLAs from the Bharatiya Janata Party and 5 independents.
Functioning of the 12th Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly and trends in participation of MLAs (2013-2017)
The current HP assembly sat for an average of 29 days in a year, a dip from the previous assembly (2008-2012) which sat for an average of 33 days in a year. In contrast, Parliament sat for an average of 66 days in a year between 2008 to 2017. This is also lower than the average of 31 sitting days in a year for other state assemblies between 2012- 2016. 1 Note that the state government decides the duration for which its legislature should meet.
56% of the total Bills passed by the current Assembly were passed on the same or next day of the Bill’s introduction. Only one Bill, The Himachal Pradesh Aerial Ropeways (Amendment) Bill, 2015, was passed after 91 days of its introduction.
More than 50% of the total Bills passed were related to finance and education. These include Bills to establish new universities (28%), tax-related Bills such as VAT and GST (12%), and appropriation Bills to sanction budgets (10%).
The primary functions of a state legislature include passing laws on subjects under the State list like land, police and health, approving government expenditure, discussing matters of public importance, and questioning the government’s policies. By convening for shorter durations, legislators may not have adequate time to perform these tasks effectively.
59% of the MLAs have a graduate degree and 26% have a post graduate degree.
60% of the MLAs are between the age of 46 years and 65 years, while less than 3% are below the age of 35 years. Note that the minimum age for contesting elections is 25 years. The average age of the MLAs is 58 years.
Only 3 (4%) MLAs in the current assembly were female members. This is in contrast with the current female representation in legislatures which is 8% (average) for all 31 state assemblies and 12% in the Lok Sabha.
Question hour is an important mechanism empowering legislators to elicit information from the government on matters of public interest and hold it accountable for its actions. Facts relating to the entire range of government activities, and policies can be asked for and Ministers are answerable for their Ministry’s actions.
On average, each MLA asked 117 questions. 9% of the MLAs did not ask any question. Three MLAs asked more than 300 questions each.