Bhubaneswar: A day before the Patkura Assembly election, several legislators cutting across political hues were found abstaining from the Legislative Assembly debates Friday apparently to campaign their respective party candidates.
Right from the Question Hour Friday, the thin presence of the elected representatives exposed the priorities of the legislators. As a result the debates in the Assembly suffered, while many top leaders of prominent parties were busy campaigning for their party candidates or spent time elsewhere.
It was virtually a crisis when the debate under the Adjournment Motion was taken into account post noon. This correspondent, who was present in the House throughout the day, observed how the number of MLAs dwindled gradually, as many legislators left the House ignoring their duties.
At one point, there were only 27 MLAs in the Assembly (19 per cent of the total strength of the House). The current strength of the House is 145, while two seats – Patkura and Bijepur – are vacant. Most of the BJD MLAs and ministers were in a holiday mood and the Treasury benches virtually wore a deserted look during the debate on Adjournment Motion. Around 1:55 pm the attendance came down to 18 per cent.
At 1:41, pm when the Motion was taken up for debate, only 35 out of 145 MLAs were seen present in the House and it later came down to 32 at 1:44 pm. Even the advantage of having women MLAs, who generally attend most of the sessions, seemed to be ineffective for the ruling party as no woman legislator from the BJD was seen present in the House at 1:51 pm.