The Delhi assembly is not meeting enough to deliberate on citizens’ issues, a recent report by an NGO claimed, suggesting that the number of sittings of the House should be increased. The report by NGO Praja Foundation contains a consolidated report card on the performance of 61 out of 70 Delhi MLAs over a span of two years.
It said much of the data used in compiling the report was obtained through Right to Information (RTI) applications. There was no immediate reaction to the report from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.
This Praja Foundation report card includes data covering the performance of the MLAs for the period from February 24, 2020, to January 4, 2022. Of the total 70 MLAs of Delhi, the report card measures the performance of 61. The remaining nine are the speaker, deputy speaker, and the ministers of the city government.
Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha has been included in the rating as he was an MLA during the period covered for this report card, the NGO said. The report states that MLAs’ attendance declined from 90 percent in 2015 (first year of the Sixth Assembly) to 87 percent in 2020 (first year of the Seventh Assembly).
Noting that in the data, attendance is not directly related to the number of sittings held, it said in 2018, the highest number of 32 sittings were held but attendance was still at 82 percent. The report claimed that the Delhi assembly met only 10 times in 2021 post-lockdown. The number of sittings was the lowest in 2020 (five) before the lockdown out of the 19 assemblies tracked, it said.
“This clearly shows that the Delhi assembly has not been meeting enough to deliberate on citizens’ issues and by learning from other states, they should maximize the opportunity to meet as much as possible to address citizens’ issues through the constitutional process," read the report. Due to the fewer number of sittings, Praja Foundation decided not to publish separate annual report cards for 2020 and 2021, and instead went for a consolidated one.
In 2020, only 55 issues were raised, while in 2015, 963 issues were raised in the assembly. In 2018, when more than 32 sittings were held, 2,336 issues were raised, it said, adding that increasing the number of sittings will ensure more issues are addressed efficiently. Although Delhi faces major pollution problems every year, issues raised on the subject decreased by 74 percent from 39 in the first two years of the Sixth Assembly to 10 in the similar period of the Seventh Assembly.
Deliberation on health issues dropped by 83 percent from 66 in 2015 to 11 in 2020, and that on education decreased by 99 percent from 84 in 2015 to only one in 2020, the report said. The NGO said three BJP MLAs have ranked on top in its assessment in terms of attendance, issues raised in the assembly, quality of issues raised, and least criminal record.
These are Ajay Kumar Mahawar, Mohan Singh Bisht, and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, it said. Two AAP MLAs, Vishesh Ravi, and Mohinder Goyal are among the top five. AAP’s Dinesh Mohaniya, Amanatullah Khan, Atishi, and Shoiab Iqbal were the lowest ranked on these parameters, the NGO said.