Early end to UP’s budget session leaves opposition miffed
The Uttar Pradesh legislature was adjourned sine die on Thursday about six days ahead of schedule after both the state assembly and the legislative council gave their nod to the state Budget for 2021-22. The state’s first paperless budget was presented with the largest-ever outlay of ₹550,270.78 crore on February 22. It has new schemes worth ₹27,598.40 crore.
On Thursday, the assembly passed five bills, including the Uttar Pradesh Appropriation Bill-2021 that allows the state government to draw ₹5.85 lakh crore from the consolidated fund and a legislation to repeal 61 redundant laws, after protests, slogan-shouting and walkouts by members of the major Opposition parties.
While the Opposition expressed unhappiness over the session ending ahead of schedule, parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Khanna cited precedent, asserting that it was not a new tradition. He also referred to the upcoming panchayat elections as well as the World Health Organisation and Niti Aayog’s observations on the fight against Covid-19.
Hours after the assembly was adjourned sine die, the Upper House of the bicameral state legislature, too, followed suit on completing the listed business, passing several amendment bills by voice vote.
The budget session began on February 18 and was scheduled to end with the passing of the budget on March 10. In its 15-day session, the state assembly held 10 sittings and conducted business for 65 hours and 31 minutes. Soon after the assembly’s sitting began for the day at 11am, Khanna urged speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit that all the items relating to the state budget be taken up and passed on the day.
In his attempt to convince the Opposition members, Khanna said, “Five-day debate, admissible on the state budget, will be complete on Thursday. Panchayat elections are underway. Many members have to be in their constituencies to file objections about reservation of constituencies.”
Opposition members staged a walkout when listed business was being taken up and alleged that the state government was violating all democratic norms. The second walkout came when the state government moved the Uttar Pradesh Repeal Bill 2021 to do away with 61 laws that have become redundant.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had spoken in the assembly on Wednesday and replied to issues raised by leader of opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary, BSP leader Lalji Verma and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Aradhna Mishra ‘Mona’.
Chaudhary (SP) said the state government had given the programme of the House till March 10. By bringing down the number of sittings, the state government was violating democratic norms and curtailing the rights of the members, he alleged. Verma quoted chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s statement made in 2017. He said the CM had talked about having more than 90 sittings of the House every year and the state government was backtracking on these words. He said this was for the first time that the question hour was not being held to make way for passage of the budget. The CLP leader said the state government’s move would deprive new members of the experience of cut motions on departmental budgets in the House.
Khanna, however, said there was a lot of difference between the words and deeds of the Opposition. He said on March 12, 1991, the then minister for parliamentary affairs had moved a proposal to get the budget passed in one go. In 2009, the House met only for 13 days and a similar motion was moved on February 20, 2009 with the then minister for parliamentary affairs Lalji Verma, quoting the precedence of March 11, 1991 to make his point. Khanna said this was repeated again on March 11, 2006 in the House.
The assembly also passed the Uttar Pradesh Fundamental Rule 56 (Amendment and Validation) Bill 2021 to retrospectively validate the retirement of state government employees on the afternoon of the last day of the month in which he/she attains the age of 60 years. The House also gave its nod to the Uttar Pradesh Sheera Niyantran (Sansodhan) Vidheyak 2021 (control of molasses amendment bill 2021) to confer on the state government the powers of determining the rate of administrative charges on transfer, selling and supply of molasses by the sugar factories.It also passed the Uttar Pradesh Public Services (Reservation for Physically Handicapped, Dependents of Freedom Fighters and Ex-Servicemen (Amendment) Bill 2021 to give representation to ex-servicemen in subordinate services and provide 5% reservation on Group B posts.
In the council, the pre-lunch session witnessed walkouts by the SP, BSP, and Congress members over several issues. SP members were dissatisfied with the government's response on the issue of alleged hoarding and black-marketeering of some essential commodities. BSP members walked out over the issue of alleged police atrocities.
Congress members claimed there were "363 incidents of self-immolation outside UP Vidhan Sabha in the last seven months". They also protested over the law and order situation.