Madhya Pradesh Assembly losing relevance!
Posted August 5, 2009on:
The Madhya Pradesh Assembly is becoming irrelevant. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has almost succeeded in turning this House of the representatives of the people into a forum just to bestow legitimacy on his remaining in power to govern the State arbitrarily. Speaker Ishwardas Rohani is an unconscionable accomplice in this diabolical plan.
The budget session of the Assembly — yes, it was called the budget session — was to last till August 4, according to the notification. But Speaker Rohani adjourned it sine die on July 28, without allowing a discussion on the issues directly affecting the people of the State — the issues which the Opposition had been trying to raise from the day one. Rohani had, in fact, prompted a censure motion to be adopted by the BJP-packed House against deputy leader of the Opposition Chaudhari Rakesh Singh on July 20 when the latter had sought to know the time and the day for a discussion on the law and order situation in the State. There had been Speakers of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly accused of inefficiency, corruption and nepotism but no Speaker had been as insensitive to the people’s problems as Rohani.
The modus operandi adopted by Rohani to scuttle a discussion on the people’s problems gives an insight into his devious mind. On July 20, when he had allowed Rakesh Singh to be censured, Rohani had announced that the Business Advisory Committee had already approved a discussion on the law and order situation under Rule 139 (that relates to “a matter of urgent public importance”) and that he would allow a discussion on it. The discussion was not allowed in the course of the week, though he made it clear that the House would be adjourned on July 28.
Discussions on the power crisis and the law and order situation (both under Rule 139) were listed as the last two items for July 27 (Monday) but the agenda for that day was so heavy that these two items could not be taken up. These were again listed as the last two items in the last day’s agenda which was heavier than the one on the previous day. The Opposition, seeing into Rohani’s game, demanded after lunch hour to take up these two important issues for a discussion before other business but Rohani would not relent. The frustrated Opposition then walked out and Rohani succeeded in averting a discussion on the two sensitive issues.
The law and order situation in the State has been steadily deteriorating. It is not uncommon for the police to refuse to even register the cases — and sometimes even behave like outlaws. An irate husband beat up his wife. The husband’s younger brother, Mahendra, went to the police station to request them to intervene and save his sister-in-law. The police, instead, put Mahendra behind the bars for the night. His sister-in-law, meanwhile, succumbed to the beating by her husband and in the absence of medical assistance. Minister of home Jagdish Deora agreed to order an inquiry only after two ruling party MLAs took up the matter with him. The figures recently released by the Central agencies put Madhya Pradesh at the top in rape cases.
A day after the adjournment of the Assembly, the State Electricity Board announced a tariff hike for domestic consumers and farmers. The Electricity Board’s chairman is Rakesh Sahni whom Chauhan had made chief secretary by ignoring the claims of over half a dozen IAS officers senior to him, not for Sahni’s administrative acumen but for his capacity to be Chauhan’s perfect “yes man”. Principal secretary to the department of energy is Sanjay Bandopadhyaya who was about to be prosecuted by the Lokayukta Organisation for two cases of corruption when Ripusudan Dayal (who retired as Lokayukta in June) struck a deal with him and got his son adjusted as an advocate for the Electricity Board in exchange for dropping the corruption charges against him. (Bandopadhyaya was then managing director of the Board).
Little wonder that the Board has become a den of “thieves” and “dacoits”. When the BJP ousted Digvijay Singh’s Congress government in 2003, the T&D losses (transmission and distribution losses, popularly referred to as theft and dacoity losses) were about 44 per cent. This figure has gone up to 47 per cent during the BJP regime. The Board keeps on increasing the electricity rates to keep its officers and employees in comfort but it has no electricity to maintain a regular supply. Power cuts in the State are endemic.
According to PCC spokesperson K.K.Mishra, not only did the Electricity Board not try to check the T&D losses, but it had been showing utter callousness in generation and maintenance also. The purchase of power at high rates from other States during elections has been a big strain on the finances of the Board.
Mishra claims that the power generation has declined by 3723 million units after the BJP came to power while the coal consumption has gone up by Rs 200 to Rs 300 crore per year during this period. The five companies carved out of the MP State Electricity Board purchased during this period equipment worth Rs 1500 crore and these are lying idle, the sole purpose behind purchase being the “commissions”. It is not difficult to understand why Chauhan did not want a discussion on the power crisis and why Rohani devised his unique method to exhaust the patience of the Opposition.
Rohani’s help to the chief minister and his colleagues is not confined to scuttling discussions on sensitive issues. He shows his contempt for the people, who have sent their representatives to the Assembly, in every possible way. Rekha Yadav (BJS) sought some information through a question in the beginning of this year. Her question was listed for March 18. Minister of State Karan Singh Verma’s reply was that information was being collected. Through another question listed for July 22, Rekha reminded the minister of her earlier question and asked for the information she had sought as well as the causes which made it difficult to get the information promptly. Karan Singh Verma’s reply again was: the information on both the points is being collected. And this is not the only instance of evasion which Speaker Rohani has been generously permitting.