Lucknow, Feb. 19: As the budget session of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly draws near, legislators are worried it will be violent.
“It’s in the air,” said Congress legislature party deputy leader Jagdambika Pal.
Many legislators were witness to the violence in the House in 1993 and again in 1997, which left many, including present Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi, bleeding.
A day after leader of the Opposition Mohammed Azam Khan expressed fear of violence, chief minister Mayavati today claimed that intelligence reports said the Samajwadi Party was planning to engineer trouble.
Earlier, Mayavati met Tripathi to brief him on the intelligence reports. The Speaker confirmed that security arrangements for the session were discussed. “We will ensure that 1993 and 1997 are not repeated,” he said.
The Samajwadi camp is now accusing Mayavati of raising the bogey of violence to cut short the budget session.
“She will try to get the vote on account passed and get the House adjourned sine die before any real trial of strength is possible. For this, she can go to any extreme,” said Samajwadi MLA and former minister Ashok Bajpai.
Sources close to the chief minister vehemently refuted the charge. “Why should she bother when she has a clear majority'” a BSP minister asked.
However, they confirmed that a vote on account might be tabled instead of a full-fledged budget. The tentative schedule planned by Mayavati leaves only four days for discussion.
After the Governor’s address on February 28 and obituary references on March 3, the legislature is supposed to go through discussion and voting on the supplementary budget, the vote on account and the motion of thanks to the Governor between March 4 and 7.
The Opposition is likely to insist that the no-confidence motions against the Speaker be discussed first and a pro-tem Speaker be appointed for the purpose. “Tripathi cannot preside since the majority in the House does not support him,” Samajwadi leader Azam Khan said.
Mayavati and BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon have made it clear they will not yield on the issue. Tripathi has not reacted to the demand for his removal. But he has not commented either on the admissibility of the no-confidence motions.
Mayavati is likely to face her first trial of strength on March 5 when voting on the supplementary budget is scheduled. Voting on the vote on account and the motion of thanks are billed for March 7, possibly the last day of the session.
If the chief minister has her way, she would like to go for voting on the supplementary budget, the vote on account and the motion of thanks in one go to catch the Opposition off guard.
“After March 7, we have no government business and the House can be adjourned if necessary,” BSP minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui said, reflecting the party opinion.
Many issues could prove potentially explosive this session. Mayavati’s use of the anti-terror law against Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh and his father is one.
“It is bound to come up and bound to raise heat… It could easily lead to a bloody battle in the House,” a five-time MLA said.
The contest is particularly acrimonious. While Mayavati has virtually accused the Opposition of plotting her murder, the Samajwadi camp is alleging that Mayavati is trying to eliminate its national general secretary Amar Singh.
Political scientists point out that the Uttar Pradesh contest is becoming centred around personalities. “This gives the political struggle the character of a gang war. Since more than 50 per cent MLAs have a criminal past, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly can easily turn into a roughhouse,” said Lucknow University’s Ramesh Dixit.