In a bid to inculcate discipline among legislators, Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit is contemplating institution of a ‘Best Legislator Award’ on the lines of the honour given to MPs. If the proposal goes ahead, Uttar Pradesh will become the first state to institute such an award.
Stung by the frequent derailment of proceedings by agitated members, Dixit told PTI that his main aim will be to ensure discipline in the House, whose Budget Session commences on February 8. “To encourage legislators to follow parliamentary etiquette and norms, we will contemplate on the institution of Best Legislator Award on the lines of Best Parliamentarian Award. This will infuse discipline among legislators,” he said in an interview ahead of the month-long session.
“This is going to be a comparatively longer session. We want quality debates and let the Opposition be aggressive. There should be plenty of healthy arguments and the Opposition should make best use of the opportunity this time. There would be adequate time to debate and discuss governor’s address to joint sitting, then during debate on the general budget and also some departmental budgets,” he said.
The speaker recalled that Opposition members blew whistles, threw paper balls at the podium during the customary address by the governor to the first sitting of the session last year. “It should not happen this time,” he said, adding that a day before the Assembly meets, he would convene an all-party meeting to appeal to leaders of all parties to ensure decorum. “On February 7, an all-party meeting is likely to be convened. The leaders will be urged that there is a debate and discussion on the Governor’s address in which the Opposition can put forth its point of view. This is parliamentary practice…We must learn from Lok Sabha in this regard.
“And, I am hopeful that leaders will understand this,” he said to a specific question as to what measures may be adopted to ensure that the Governor’s address is not disrupted this time.
On May 15, 2017, the maiden session of the newly-elected UP Assembly opened with Governor Ram Naik being bombarded with paper balls during his address, as an angry opposition protested over the alleged worsening of law and order. Many Samajwadi Party legislators shouted slogans and carried placards. They threw paper balls at Naik, some of which even hit him, despite marshals trying to shield the Governor with the help of files. Samajwadi Party legislator Rajesh Yadav blew a whistle through the 35-minute address to ensure that the Governor’s voice was drowned in the din.
As the Governor’s address began, the entire Opposition –comprising members of the SP, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party — started shouting slogans against the government over the issue of law and order. BJP members added to the din, thumping their desks loudly whenever the governor lauded the government. To another question, Dixit said, “It is not possible to edit live telecast of proceedings. However, we will deliberate on this aspect with Doordarshan to focus cameras on the Chair and not on members when they create unruly scenes.” He observed that hurling of paper balls can injure anyone. “This is unbecoming of a public representative,” he said.
The Speaker said that he has not thought of frisking MLAs before they enter the House. “However, there is a significant difference between entering the House with posters, banners and placards in a pre-planned manner to disturb proceedings and sudden provocation (during discussion),” Dixit said. When asked whether he is contemplating any other strict measures (in this regard), the 70-year-old Speaker said, “I have never thought of strictness.”
A five-time MLA, Dixit is an erudite scholar, a columnist and has a number of books to his credit. The Budget session of the Uttar Pradesh Legislature is set to begin on February 8 with the Governor’s address to a joint sitting of both the Houses. The business advisory committee of the two Houses will decide on the number of sittings. This will be the Yogi Adityanath government’s second budget which is likely to focus on measures to ensure a spurt in economic activities besides providing respite to farmers in distress.
The budget will be keenly watched by financial as well as political experts as it will reveal the roadmap of development in the state during the financial year 2018-19. The budget assumes significance as development, job creation and public expenditure in the state in next financial will build public opinion ahead of the 2019 general elections. The government will have to allocate funds for Poorvanchal Expressway project and the new metro projects announced by it. Besides, since the state government has declared 2018 as the year of empowerment of youth, budgetary provisions would be required to fulfill commitments for job creation, education, health, startups, and sports.
The Vidhan Sabha is also expected to send the UP Control of Organised Crimes (UPCOC) Bill to the Legislative Council again for passage after a select committee, to which the bill was sent for scrutiny, refused to consider the proposed amendments. During the Winter session of the state legislature, the UPCOC Bill, drafted on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), hit a roadblock in the Legislative Council, where a determined Opposition stalled its passage.