Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Assembly’s budget session opened on a stormy note on Thursday as slogan-shouting lawmakers from Opposition parties let loose a barrage of paper balls and balloons while Governor Ram Naik addressed a joint sitting of the state legislature highlighting the achievements of the Yogi Adityanath government.
As soon as the joint sitting of state Assembly and legislative council began, Opposition members, in Gandhi caps of different colours representing their respective parties and armed with placards, started shouting slogans against the government.
“Governor go back,” many shouted, while carrying placards that said, “Stop fake encounters of innocents” and “Stop atrocities on Muslims”.
The Uttar Pradesh governor continued to read out his address for nearly an hour and a half as Opposition members held up posters that said, “Kanoon vyasta past hai, Yogi baba mast hai” (there is no law and order, but Yogi is unconcerned), “Anti-farmer BJP government”, and “Waive loans of farmers”.
Samajwadi Party members also threw paper balls and paper planes towards the podium, and chucked balloons in the air in an apparent bid to distract the governor.
“You should behave like representatives of civilised society,” the governor admonished them.
Samajwadi Party members also tried to move towards the governor but were physically prevented from doing so by the marshals.
The governor finished reading the 38-page address without any break.
Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit condemned the behaviour of the Opposition members while thanking the governor for completing his address despite the disruptions.
“The way in which members behaved is condemnable. The paper balls continued to fly but the undeterred governor carried on with his address for which we thank him,” he said.
The Opposition members raised slogans protesting against the law and order situation in the state right from the start of the address when the governor said tight security measures had helped fight crime.
His reference to the constitution of anti-Romeo squads to deal with harassment of women drew loud catcalls from the Opposition benches, who pooh-poohed his claim that women were feeling safe in the state.
When the governor mentioned the UPCOC bill brought in by the government on the lines of the Maharashtra anti-terror law, the protests grew louder, with Samajwadi Party members raising their voices.
The governor mentioned policies initiated by the BJP government during its one year in office, particularly in agriculture, education, health, power and industrial development, but his speech was drowned by the ruckus kicked up by the agitated members.
The Opposition seemed determined to corner the state government on the law and order front, especially over the recent Kasganj communal flare up, even before the House had met for the day.
They assembled outside the House with their posters, while Samajwadi Party MLC Sanjay Lathar had a garland of potatoes around his neck to draw the attention of the government to the plight of potato growers in the state.
After the governor left the Vidhan Bhawan, Adityanath said, “The Opposition leaders’ … rude, unparliamentary, indecorous and indecent behaviour… is despicable”.
“This type of behaviour shatters the parliamentary tradition … Paper balls were thrown, balloons were flown. The use of foul language for the governor by the Samajwadi Party members in the presence of their leaders is indeed unparliamentary and an despicable act,” he said.
The behaviour pointed to the anarchy that was there in the state under the earlier rule, Adityanath added.
“These people are yet to come out of their mindset of anarchy — which they had allowed in the state — and they do not want the House to be free from that anarchy,” he said.
The government is scheduled to present the annual budget for the next fiscal on 16 February.
This will be the first full-fledged budget of the BJP government which came to power in 2017 with a thumping majority, ousting the Samajwadi Party.