The Budget Session of the Uttar Pradesh legislature will begin with Governor Anandiben Patel's address to a joint sitting of both Houses of the state legislature on Thursday.
The Yogi Adityanath government is slated to present its annual budget for 2021-22 on Monday. This will be the last budget of the BJP government before the state goes to polls early next year.
As the opposition parties prepared to grill the government on pressing issues, particulary those relating to the ongoing farmer protests, law and order and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Assembly Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit sought cooperation of leaders of all parties for smooth conduct of business.
Dixit held an all-party meeting on Wednesday where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ram Govind Chaudhary (Samajwadi Party) and leaders of other parties were present.
The Speaker said Uttar Pradesh, having the largest Legislative Assembly in the country, has an obligation to conduct the proceedings of the House with a firm commitment to the Constitution.
"The cooperation of all is required for a substantive and quality discussion in the House," he said.
This will be the first time that the budget will be paperless and printed copies will not be available.
All legislators will get the budget document on their iPads and it will also be uploaded on the Assembly's website. Legislators were also given training to help them use iPads smoothly.
At the all-party meeting, the chief minister said, "We are committed to meaningful and constructive debates and deliberations to run proceedings for the maximum time. Keeping the high dignity of the House, if the serious discussion is carried forward, the dignity of the members will enhance and the public's faith in democracy will increase. The conduct of all of us in the House affects the society, gives a new direction, through which society then decides its direction."
"We will always be ready to successfully conduct the proceedings on behalf of the government and discuss the issues raised by the members," he said.
The chief minister said the government will make every effort to ensure positive action on all matters raised by members.
"This is the collective responsibility of the ruling party and the opposition. In this session, the e-budget of the country's largest state Uttar Pradesh will be presented on February 22," he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna too sought cooperation from all party leaders for the successful and smooth functioning of the House.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Lalji Verma and Aradhana Mishra Mona of the Congress, Apna Dal (S) leader Neel Ratan Patel and Triveni Ram of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party also attended the meeting.
Besides the presentation of the annual budget, the government is also likely to table important bills, including the one replacing the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which was promulgated with the approval of the governor in November last year.
The state cabinet had earlier approved the draft ordinance to curb forcible or "dishonest" religious conversions, including those for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.
In the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, all preparations are being made to conduct COVID-19 test of MLAs, MLCs and other staff members, including the security personnel.
The Speaker, who had convened a meeting in this regard on Tuesday, said COVID-19 test of the legislators were going on while the process for the staff members of the House has been completed.
The Assembly secretariat has issued a circular, making it mandatory for all MLAs and MLCs to undergo COVID-19 test before the commencement of the Budget Session.
All district magistrates and chief medical officers were directed to make arrangements for COVID-19 test for the legislators in their respective districts.
For the second consecutive time, mediapersons will not be allowed access to the press gallery. Two LED screens have been put up in the Tilak Hall, from where they can watch the proceedings.
According to the tentative schedule of the Assembly, the session is likely to continue till March 10.
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