BSP members wave banners during the governor’s address in the Assembly in Lucknow on Thursday. (PTI)
Lucknow, Feb. 14: Slogan-shouting legislators of the BSP hurled paper balls at the governor in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly today as he struggled to explain the government’s stand on the Maha Kumbh Mela stampede in the opening speech of the budget session that was cut short by the ruckus.
Today’s disruption brought back memories of violence in the House 16 years ago, though this time microphones were not used as weapons by the MLAs from Mayawati’s party.
Instead, the BSP legislators climbed up on tables and aimed their paper missiles at governor B.L. Joshi, yelling at him to stop delivering the speech.
The BSP was agitated over what it called the failure of the government to maintain law and order in the state. They shouted slogans against the state government over the Kumbh Mela stampede on February 10 that killed more than 30 people, an issue on which they were supported by the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress. The BJP did not join the protest as it had boycotted today’s proceedings over the “the killing of pilgrims in the Kumbh Mela”.
Around 11am, when the governor entered the House, the Opposition members were on their feet, shouting “vapas jao (go back)”.
They unfurled banners protesting against the deteriorating law and order, a raw deal to farmers and the general failure of the Akhilesh Yadav government.
The governor was barely three minutes into his speech when the slogans began to get shriller and paper missiles hurtled down on him, forcing him to stop. “I will end this address if the members do not want to listen,” he said.
But the sloganeering continued. The governor somehow muttered “Jai Hind” and was quickly escorted out of the House by security guards. The Opposition followed him out but continued to shout slogans in the corridors.
Speaker Mataprasad Pandey adjourned the Assembly five minutes later.
The House is expected to resume on Monday, after a long weekend — Friday is a government holiday on account of Basant Panchami.
“Goons are out in full to silence the voice of democracy,” state parliamentary affairs minister Mohammad Azam Khan said.
The leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Swami Prasad Maurya, said his party, the BSP, would continue to protest against the government inside the House. He demanded the dismissal of the government for its failure to prevent “the killing of innocent people in the Kumbh”.
In his written speech, which was distributed later among journalists, the governor said: “The government is much perturbed and worried and has full sympathy and compassion with the suffering families whose members died during a stampede at Allahabad railway station on February 10 last.”
He said the government had “ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident and given financial assistance of Rs 7 lakh each to the dependents of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh each to the injured.”
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has been a frequent witness to ruckus but the worst disruption in legislative history was on October 22, 1997.
The legislators had then attacked each other with microphones and chairs over a debate on the question of the majority of the Kalyan Singh government. Several MLAs were injured.