UP Budget session starts on stormy note as Opposition stages walkout

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Lucknow, Feb 18 (PTI) The Budget session of the Uttar Pradesh legislature began on a stormy note on Thursday with Opposition raising slogans and then staging a walkout, protesting over the Centre’s farm laws.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel continued with her speech, praising the state government over law and order and coronavirus management.

The Governor’s customary address to both Houses of the state legislature started five minutes late, prompting the Opposition to later allege that she did not want to address due to the 'atrocities' committed against the women in the state.

Addressing the joint sitting of the state legislature, the Governor said besides effectively controlling the spread of coronavirus, the government brought back migrants stranded in other states during the lockdown.

'The work done by my government in the health sector and coronavirus management by enhancing the capacity of COVID testing from zero to 2 lakh per day, arranging more than 1.5 lakh beds for COVID patients and ICU in each district has been appreciated at the national and international level,' she said.

The Governor went on to say that in 2020, there has been a decline of 7.96 per cent in dowry deaths; 18.93 per cent in rapes; 20.02 per cent in molestation; 26.47 per cent in kidnapping and 13.41 per cent in domestic violence against women.

'There has been a steady decline in the incidents of murder in the state and as compared to the year 2016, there has been a decline of 25.88 per cent in such cases,' she said.

“The notorious mafia criminals of the state have been identified. Their arms licences were cancelled and so far, properties worth more than Rs 1,000 crore have been seized and demolished, and also freed from unlawful possession. So far, 1,019 from among different kinds of criminal have been arrested and many gangsters have surrendered in the courts under immense pressure of police,' she added.

She said during the COVID-19 pandemic, not a single sugar mill was closed. With the support of farmers, crushing of sugarcane continued during the pandemic and there was no loss of sugarcane production, she said, adding that no farmer got infected with coronavirus in any sugar mill.

The Governor further said the state has emerged as an export hub and stressed that the Power Department played an important role in achieving this.

She also praised the government for the successful inauguration of the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya by the prime minister.

“For this, I express my gratitude to the prime minister and the country's judiciary,” Patel said.

Meanwhile, Opposition parties raised slogans and staged a walkout during the Governor's address, opposing the Centre's three agriculture laws.

Commenting over the late arrival of the Governor for the address, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ram Gobind Chaudhary, later alleged that she did not want to address the House due to the atrocities committed against the women in the state.

'Seeing the atrocities committed against the women in the state, the Governor did not want to read her address. The chief minister and the speaker convinced her. Then after seven-eight minutes, she completed her quorum,' Chaudhary told reporters outside the Assembly without substantiating his claim. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna said the Opposition's behaviour during the Governor's address was 'irresponsible'.

'The Governor's address is a reflection of the government's policies. The manner in which the Opposition parties behaved in the House during the address is irresponsible and condemnable,' Khanna said.

BSP leader Lalji Verma told reporters that he has seen it for the first time that the Governor arrived late for the address.

Leader of Congress Legislature Party Aradhana Misra said, 'The government should have expressed sympathy towards more than 200 farmers who have died during the protest. Most of the farmers who died are from UP.' 'We opposed the three black farm laws. If the Governor's address can start after five minutes (than the scheduled time), it shows the seriousness of the government on issues pertaining to the state,' she said.

Samajwadi Party legislators also staged a protest outside the Assembly building in support of the farmers' agitation before the beginning of the state's Budget session. PTI NAV SAB RDK RDK