Karnataka Assembly sittings this year lowest in a decade
The political instability that enveloped the previous JD(S)-Congress regime this year apparently prevented meaningful legislative business.
These sittings were spread across five sessions, all of which were summoned mainly to conduct critical government businesses like passing of the Budget, Bills and other pieces of subordinate legislation.
This is the lowest number of sittings the state legislature has had after calendar 2008 — another year of political uncertainties when the lower House sat only for 17 days. The political instability that enveloped the previous JD(S)-Congress regime this year apparently prevented meaningful legislative business.
The number of sessions in Karnataka has not crossed 60 in the past two decades. The highest number of sittings in the last 10 years was in 2015 when the Assembly, during the Siddaramaiah-led Congress regime, met for 58 days. On an average, the Assembly has met for 36 days in a year in the past decade. In 2012, lawmakers mandated that they should meet for a minimum of 60 days in a year. But it has not happened, said a senior official at the Assembly secretariat.
For the record, neighbouring Kerala's House met for 151 days in 2017.
Senior legislators blame the trend on the “changed priorities” of elected representatives. Legislative Council member Basavaraj Horatti who has never missed the first day of the session in 38 years of his political career, said that legislators prefer fewer session sittings to avoid debates on important matters.
“If sessions are held for more days, naturally more questions are asked and the issues that are discussed in the session will reach people. Neither the ruling party nor the opposition is interested in debates,” Horatti said, adding that legislators should ideally spare at least 60 days in a year attending sessions.
Siddaramaiah, as Opposition leader, urged the government to extend the session this time to discuss the destruction caused by the recent flash floods, only to be rebuked.
With many legislators arguing that merely attending sessions will not help them to gain goodwill among voters, political analyst and pro vice chancellor of Jain University Sandeep Shastri said that lawmakers are in the process of redefining their roles. “Most lawmakers say that their work is not just to sit and deliberate as it does not win them an election. They prefer being in the field to create a perception among people that they are representing voters than debate in the Assembly,” he said.
Since a lot of decisions are taken in legislative committees than in the sessions and away from the public spotlight, Shastri said that political parties need to deliberate on working out strategies to make legislature sessions more effective. “Else, these formal sessions will remain more of a ritual,” he said.