Himachal legislators not cut out for tabs and touch

Legislators in Himachal Pradesh just cannot log on to technology. In the times of tabs and touch screens, they can’t even operate the desktop computers. Most of the time, they were seen juggling with the devices in the just concluded state Assembly session.

Finally, they prefer to trudge the conventional route, using a bunch of papers to reply to questions. Even laying of most of the papers, reports and copies of documents was done manually.

Speaker B B L Butail, on the first day of the Assembly session Aug 7, informed the members that they could use hard copies till they got tech-savvy with the Rs 8.12 crore e-Vidhan project, the web-based paperless Assembly and the country’s first pilot project that started from this session. He requested the members to devote time after the session to familiarise themselves with the newly-installed devices.

During the House proceedings, peals of laughter reverberated off and on when the legislators tried to communicate through the devices.

The most ‘tech illiterates’ were Irrigation and Public Health Minister Vidya Stokes and Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania. Even Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 80, who was assisted by an information technology expert throughout the session, preferred to give replies and to conduct business the old-fashioned way.

Interestingly, Pathania, while replying during Question Hour, tried to swipe the screen and was unable to do so. Transport Minister G S Bali, who was sitting beside him, tried to wipe his finger on the glass screen to reach to the page where the written reply was given. This was noticed by the opposition, who started heckling them.

“Only four to five MLAs (in a House of 68 members) preferred to attend the special classes on the three days,” said an official. Another octogenarian Assembly member who regularly participated in the e-classroom was former BJP education minister I D Dhiman. “I am now comfortable with computer and could operate on my own,” Dhiman, who retired as a government teacher, said.

Leader of Opposition and two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was among those seen trying their hand on the desktop when the session was in progress.

Speaker Butail, the man behind commissioning of the project, said from the next session all replies to questions, copies of bills and reports will be provided online.

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