Uttar Pradesh assembly makes history with day reserved for women MLAs

Updated on Sep 23, 2022 12:14 AM IST

Uttar Pradesh assembly watches women MLAs raise issues of public interest, speaker says message going across globe, CM Yogi lauds contribution of women in freedom struggle

Women MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh assembly building in Lucknow on Thursday. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
Women MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh assembly building in Lucknow on Thursday. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
By, Lucknow

It was a historic occasion for the Uttar Pradesh assembly where the day was reserved for women MLAs on Thursday.

Speaker Satish Mahana said the state assembly had sent a message of women empowerment across the globe. The Uttar Pradesh assembly has 403 members and out of them 47 are women.

The women MLAs who participated in the proceedings included the BJPs 24, the SP’s 10, three of the Apna Dal (S) and one of the Congress.

Soon after the speaker began proceedings at 11am, Samajwadi Party (SP) member Pooja Saroj rose from her seat and said, “Speaker sir, we have given a notice. We want you to allow us speak on this notice immediately.”

Other Samajwadi Party members joined her soon.

This was the rarest of rare occasions in the state assembly when a group of women members was making its point on a notice, demanding suspension of all rules and urging that they be allowed to speak.

“Wait, let the proceedings begin,” said Mahana. But about four to five SP women members persisted with their request. As the women members were making their point, chief minister Yogi Adityanath was seen smiling and so was leader of opposition Akhilesh Yadav.

The speaker asked the SP members to speak only after he began taking up the day’s agenda. He asked for the contents of the notice and the rule that allowed them to speak on admissibility of the notice. Pooja Saroj said the issue was rising unemployment. Others supported her and quoted Rule 311 of the House that needed suspension of all rules to take up an important issue.

The speaker said the issue did not qualify to be taken up under Rule 311. Yet, he agreed to listen to the SP members on admissibility of the notice as an adjournment motion under Rule 56 of the House and everybody agreed.

As this was for the first time that a day had been reserved for women, the speaker had requested all legislative assemblies to watch the proceedings. He also made a similar request to Parliament.

He said a new beginning was being made in the House with a day reserved for women members and the state assembly had sent a message of women empowerment across the globe.

Mahana spoke about how the idea for a special day for women cropped up at an interaction with a group of women lawmakers and how the chief minister and the leader of opposition supported him.

Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav refrained from targeting each other though they spoke about the achievements of their respective governments.

Yogi quoted ancient sages and scriptures to make his point about contribution of women and said a “sukta” (verse) read out during the Hindu marriages was also composed by a woman Surya Savitri. He also spoke about the women’s contribution in India’s freedom struggle.

Yadav mentioned the state’s first governor Sarojini Naidu and first woman chief minister Sucheta Kripalani. He said SP ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia spoke about equality of men and women. He quoted Lohia on how Draupadi, instead of Sati Savitri, should be the ideal for women.

Yogi even urged speaker to relax rules and let the women MLAs work as presiding officers on the day to allow women members to speak.

As there was only one woman in the presiding officers’ panel, Mahana asked for more names of women MLAs to work as presiding officers on the special day.

Manju Shivach, Syeda Khatun and Anupama Jaiswal worked as presiding officers in the House on the occasion

When the proceedings of the assembly actually began after the addresses of Yogi and Yadav, the women lawmakers turned into the best orators with many of them using couplets and some singing a few lines of film songs to effectively make their point. Only women members were allowed to put supplementary questions. Though the speaker had said beforehand that only women members should speak, some members were seen making other observations without rising from their seat. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Aradhana Mishra ‘Mona’ moved a motion to draw attention towards inflation. SP’s Pooja Saroj was also heard. SP’s Dr Ragini Sonkar (who is also mentioned only as Ragini in assembly records) moved an adjournment motion about rising crime against women.

BJP member Anupama Jaiswal said women were the best friends and used couplets to make her point.

Ragini said women would have to take the country ahead without caring for what people say about them. She sang the opening line of Kishore Kumar’s song “Kuchh To Log Kahenge, Logon Ka Kaaam Hai Kehana” to make her point. She said the occasion was apt to convey a message to those who think that they have to walk behind the women leaders.

She quoted French philosopher Albert Camus to assert that women members wanted to take the people along with them.

“I don’t want you to lead me. I don’t want you to walk behind me. I want you to walk by my side,” said Ragini.

Most of those in the viewers’ galleries were women, mainly students.

The speaker also invited women officers and women doctors to watch the House proceedings.

The assembly conducted its business for 8 hours and 12 minutes on Thursday.


    Umesh Raghuvanshi is a journalist with over three decade experience. He covers politics, finance, environment and social issues. He has covered all assembly and parliament elections in Uttar Pradesh since 1984.

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