Crores spent on elections and assembly does not run even for 30 days in a year

**EDS: VIDEO GRAB** New Delhi: Parliamentarians in Lok Sabha during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (LSTV/PTI Photo)(PTI20-09-2020_000128B)

NEW DELHI: After weeks and months of intense and often polarizing politics and spending huge amounts of money on campaigning and conduct of elections, most state legislatures barely sit for 30 days in a year. In some regions like Haryana and Punjab, the average is around a fortnight.

The states with the highest average assembly sittings in a year over the past decade are Odisha (46) and Kerala (43), but these too are far below the Lok Sabha average of 63.

Even the attendance of Lok Sabha is less than that of national legislatures elsewhere. The US House of Representatives, for example, was in session for 163 days in 2020 and 166 days in 2021, and the Senate for 192 days in both years. The UK House of Commons had 147 sittings in 2020, which is in line with an annual average of around 155 over the past decade. The Diet, or House of Representatives, of Japan meets 150 days a year in addition to any extraordinary or special sessions. In Canada, the House of Commons is scheduled to meet for 127 days this year and Germany’s Bundestag, where it is mandatory for members to sit on days, will meet for 104 days this year.

TOI analyzed the data of meetings of 19 assemblies available on their websites. The average is for the period 2012 to 2021, except in the case of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha, for which data was available only from 2014 onwards.

In almost all the states analysed, the least number of meetings were in 2020 or 2021, the two COVID years, except Haryana, where the lowest, 11 meetings were held in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. In the case of Lok Sabha, the highest number was in the new millennium, 85 days, iin00 and 2005 and the lowest number was 33 in 2020, a covid year.

The websites of some state legislatures give data from the year the state was formed, while many only have data for a decade or less. In states that have data from the beginning, the average number of meetings per year seems to be decreasing gradually.

For example, in Uttar Pradesh, the average of 47 days from the 1960s to the mid-eighties dropped to about 30 days by the turn of the century and is now only 22 days. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, from 1955 to 1975, the average number of annual meetings was about 56 days, this decreased to 51 days in the period 1975–1999, and to 37 days per year in the post-2000 period.

However, in the case of Punjab, since 1966, when the state was formed, the number of meetings has been less. In 1967, the maximum number of meetings was 42. The lowest of only 11 meetings took place in 1971, 1985 and 2021. In the last decade, the average was just 15.

While the number of meetings in a particular year may be lower for other reasons such as elections or President’s Rule, the average indicates a pattern. True, simply looking at the number of meetings gives an idea of ​​how many hours a gathering worked in a day. Records of the state legislature show that the meetings were equal to a few hours, which were full working days, but they all counted as meeting days.