Questioning the government by the elected representatives on the floor of the house, irrespective of political ideology, is a fundamental feature of parliamentary democracy. In this paper, using data from the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha (LS), we study the performance of Member of Parliaments (MPs) from two major political alliances: United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in terms of attendance and the number of questions asked on the floor of the house.
With respect to attendance, we find that in the 15th LS, when NDA was in the opposition and the UPA formed the government, then MPs from NDA and the UPA had similar attendance (76.6% for UPA vs. 75.2% for NDA). However, in the 16th Lok Sabha when NDA formed the government and the UPA was in the opposition, then MPs from the UPA were significantly less likely to attend the parliament as compared to MPs from the NDA (75% for UPA vs. 85% for NDA).
In terms of questions asked: the NDA MPs in the opposition in 15th LS asked on an average 326 questions, which was significantly higher than the average number of questions asked by MPs of the ruling alliance, the UPA, at 240. However, in the subsequent 16th LS when NDA was the ruling alliance and the UPA was in the opposition, then MPs from NDA asked on an average 266 questions, while MPs from the UPA asked on an average 293 questions, and this difference was insignificant at the 95% confidence interval. Similar analysis has been performed at the level of the political parties.