Opposition sharpens knives ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly session (UP Newsletter)
With the winter session of the Uttar Pradesh assembly slated to begin Nov 23, the Samajwadi Party (SP) government could face its first litmus test in the house as opposition parties sharpen their knives on a host of issues, including the deteriorating law and order situation and festering communal unrest.
This is the second sitting of the 16th Vidhan Sabha after the budget session in June, which, but for a day of vocal protests, had passed off peacefully. While close aides of the chief minister say there was "nothing to worry" about during the session and that Akhilesh Yadav would like to "take everyone along", opposition leaders are in no mood to relent.
Swamy Prasad Maurya, leader of the opposition in the assembly and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) general secretary, said the house was the right forum to take up issues plaguing the state and that BSP legislators would do so in the forthcoming session.
"In the last seven months of SP rule, there has been only "jungle raaj" (rule of the jungle) in the state. This government is anti-Dalit and all people in the state are facing tough times," Maurya told IANS.
"Our people have sent us to the assembly to raise their problems and we will do that to the best of our abilities," he added.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and legislator from Lucknow Kalraj Mishra said that in the past seven months, the atmosphere in the state had turned from that of "disenchantment to complete negativity".
"You are aware of the condition of the state... there have been nine communal flareups. Goondas are having a free run. We will take up all such issues in an effective manner," Mishra told IANS.
Political observers say while the first session had passed peacefully, largely because of the passing of the budget, the winter session would test the state government as it would be the first time that its governance and policies would be questioned.
The Congress, which has 28 legislators in the 403-member assembly, is yet not certain about the strategy it will follow, as the support of 22 SP MPs is crucial to the survival of the Congress-led UPA-II in the Lok Sabha. Party leaders do not want to upset their equations with the SP leadership by criticizing its government in Uttar Pradesh.
"We are waiting to hear from the party high command on the strategy part, but, yes, I think our opposition to the government can be expected to be muted," a senior Congress leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The SP leaders are likely to meet and brainstorm post-Diwali to finalise their strategy.
"We are working for the welfare of the people of the state and under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav. We are fulfilling the promises made to the people," said Arvind Singh Gope, the minister of state for rural development.
With 224 seats, the SP is comfortably placed in the assembly, but an opposition onslaught could find the government on the defensive, even as it aims to score better in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)