Opposition MLAs flung paper balls at Governor Ram Naik and marshals frantically deflected the projectiles with files as the opening day of the maiden session of the new Uttar Pradesh assembly presented a spectacle of complete mayhem.
The ear-splitting sound of a whistle and uninterrupted slogan-shouting continued through the 35-minute customary address by the governor, but the 83-year-old Naik stood his ground and read out the 84-page speech.
The spillover effect of a bitterly fought assembly election, which saw Bharatiya Janata Party’s return to power in the state after a hiatus of 15 years, was clearly visible from the very start as the Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party members raised slogans against the government over law and order problems, including cow vigilantism.
As soon as Naik, flanked by UP assembly Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit and Legislative Council Chairman Ramesh Yadav, began reading aloud his address, the entire Opposition was on its toes, shouting slogans against the Yogi Adityanath government and trooping into the Well.
A BSP placard read “Police pit rahi thano mein, Yogi tere zamane mein” (police getting beaten up under Yogi’s rule), “goraksha ke naam par gundai band karo” (stop hooliganism in the name of cow protection)”.
The strained relations within the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan was once again on display, with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav avoiding any contact with his estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav.
Shivpal, an MLA, reached the House and occupied the last bench with SP members, while Akhilesh, an MLC, sat in the front row during the governor’s address.
After prodding by some SP members, Shivpal moved ahead and took a seat behind Akhilesh, but even after seeing him the former chief minister did not greet him or exchange pleasantries.
-- Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo
SP legislators also sought to corner the government on the law and order issue.
Congress too joined the opposition with slogans like -- “Kanoon vyastha dhwasth hai, sarkar bucharkhane, teen talaq me vyast hai” (law and order is in a shambles as government is busy with slaughter houses and triple talaq).
Though the governor’s address, SP legislator Rajesh Yadav blew a whistle whose piercing sound ensured little was heard of what the octogenarian Naik, a seasoned saffronite who still maintains his relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, spoke.
As the governor read out his speech, the opposition members hurled paper balls towards him with many landing on him despite attempts by marshals to fend off the missiles.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was present during the governor’s address which is note prepared by the government highlighting its achievements.
Amid the din which refused to ebb away, an annoyed governor was heard telling the opposition members -- “Sara Uttar Pradesh dekh raha hai aap ko (the entire Uttar Pradesh is watching you).”
It was for the first time that the proceedings of UP legislature were being telecast live by Doordarshan. After the BJP came to power in the state, a decision was taken to telecast live the proceedings of the House.
"Sadan ki garima banaye rakhiye” (maintain dignity of the House,” the governor pleaded with the agitated members, but in vain.
Condemning the Opposition for creating uproar in the House, cabinet minister Sidharth Nath Singh later told reporters, “People of the state have witnessed hooliganism in the SP regime. After seeing their behaviour in the House, the people of the state must be happy that they have dumped SP.
“The way in which SP members jumped atop tables and threw paper balls is condemnable. They made a mockery of democracy,” he said.
In an indication that the Opposition would continue to attack the government over law and order, SP Legislature Party leader Ram Govind Chowdhury later said, “Rape and murders have increased. Even incidents of rape with children have gone up... This government is a failure.”
Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Pratap Lallu also tried to put the state government in the dock over law and order.
“Crime in the state has increased and state government has failed to take any concrete action against law breakers,” he alleged.
In his address, the governor indirectly blamed the previous governments for the prevailing state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh and lauded the Yogi Adityanath dispensation for its resolve to transform it into a frontline state.
Naik said Uttar Pradesh was once a leading state, but in the past many years it had become laggard.