BJP MLAs, ministers sit overnight in UP Assembly making speeches at 36-hour special session

PTI, Oct 3, 2019, 10:56 AM IST

Lucknow: Nearly 100 BJP MLAs and ministers sat overnight in the UP Assembly as part of the 36-hour special session to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with many members making speeches on various issues and a minister exercising in the early hours.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath left the House around 1 am. Less than 100 of the total 301 BJP members were in the House after midnight as part of the special session. Many members were seen stepping out between 4 am and 6 am.

While the House has a total strength of 403, opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party, BSP, Congress and the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, had boycotted the session.

However, Congress MLA from Rae Bareli Aditi Singh attended the special session, deviating from her party’s decision to stay away from the marathon session.

Asked if she had deviated from the party line by attending the session, she said, “I rose above party line and tried to speak on development. This is my first and foremost priority.”

“If you heard my speech, I only spoke about development and sustainable development goals. I practice politics the way my father used to do it — whatever I feel is correct, I do it,” she said.

Asked if the party will initiate action against her, Singh said, “It is the party’s call and whatever decision they will take, I am ready to accept it. I did whatever I felt was appropriate.”

When asked if she was about to take any new step, she said, “For me, the big decision is to work more in the constituency.”

The overnight proceedings in the assembly also saw some light moments.

When Shriram Naresh Agnihotri, the cabinet minister for Excise and Prohibition rose to make his speech on the issue of excise, Urban Development Minister Gopal Tandon urged the presiding officer to ask him to also speak on prohibition on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, following which other members of the House burst into laughter.

Earlier as one MLA was quickly going through the pages during his speech, Speaker of UP Legislative Assembly Hriday Narayan Dixit asked him as to how many pages were still left.

At this point, Adityanath burst into laughter.

Dixit, while urging the MLAs to stick to the stipulated time allotted, said, “We are running late by nearly six hours, and many are interested to speak at midnight.”

Hours before making his speech, UP minister for Dairy Development, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary was seen doing some stretching exercises.

After making his speech on dairy development schemes at 6 am, Chaudhary left for his residence.

“I have been sitting here for close to 19 hours. I am going to take a bath, and will return here soon,” he told PTI.

The UP Legislative council also held the 36-hour special session.

Leaders paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri as they begin their speeches.

Sources said around 700 staff and security personnel are on duty, and three canteens of the UP Vidhan Bhavan are running round-the-clock for the special session.

Arrangements have been made to serve lunch, high tea and dinner to the legislators as well as the staff, with special care on serving food to those observing fast in view of the ongoing Navratra.

Outside the House, the Bapu Bhavan, which houses many offices of the UP government, wore an illuminated look, while the sprawling Vidhan Bhavan was buzz with activities as security personnel deployed at various entry points kept a strict vigil on the visitors and passersby.

The special 36-hour session in both houses of the Uttar Pradesh legislature began on Wednesday at 11 am amid boycott by the Opposition and would continue till Thursday night.

Chief Minister Adityanath said Opposition’s boycott was not only an “insult” to the father of the nation, but also a “contempt” of the House.

Setting the proceedings in motion, Speaker Dixit said such a session was never held in the parliamentary history.

“It’s unfortunate that opposition leaders, who agreed for the session, are not present. Probably they did not remember that they had given consent for the session,” he said.

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