With a little more than two weeks to go for the election, candidates in the Northeastern state of Meghalaya are promising to make lives of people better by giving them a voice in the assembly.

But finding time to discuss people’s problems and drawing up laws to address them doesn’t seem to rate too high. In its five-year term, the eighth Meghalaya assembly met for just 96 days, which averages to 19 days a year, a report by Delhi-based Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows.

“Assembly sessions are nothing but a six-monthly theatre. There are no follow-ups of questions raised because the sessions are so short. This needs to change,” said Angela Rangad, the head of Shillong-based civil rights body, Thma U Rangli Juki.

The voting for the 60-member House will be held on February 27.

A total of 51 bills were introduced and passed in the five years. There were just 12 sessions between 2013 and 2017, says the ADR report, which was released last week. The last session of the assembly, sworn in on March 7, 2013, was in December 2017.

“The legislative assembly has been meeting for very short time despite legislation being the main task of MLAs. On an average, Meghalaya state assembly sat for 19 days per year,” says the report by the advocacy group that is pushing for poll reforms.

The shortest session lasted just a day and the longest were of 15 days each — the second and eleventh sessions.

“Even in that short period, the proceedings of the house were disrupted 145 times (between 2013 and 2017). On an average, a session of the Meghalaya assembly was disrupted 14 times,” the report says.

Attendance, too, has been far from impressive.

On an average, each of the 60 MLAs were in the House for a just 53 days.

Independent MLAs Hopeful Bamon and Justine Dkhar and Meghalaya’s richest legislator Ngaitlang Dhar were the only exceptions.

Bamon attended the proceedings on 88 days, the other two were one short.

Dhar, who was earlier with ruling Congress, switched sides to National People’s Party in January. The business tycoon with assets worth more than Rs 290 crore is in the race from Umroi.

“Donkupar Roy (from the United Democratic Party) from Shella constituency asked the maximum number of questions. He asked 173, i.e. 17% of total questions asked in the 12 sessions of the assembly,” the report says.

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