Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit favours longer sessions of the state legislature and “mutual cooperation” between the ruling party and the Opposition for smooth conduct of the House.
He is also “open” to the idea of live telecast of the proceedings of the House.
“The elected MLAs of both the ruling party and Opposition are interested in running the House. I have full faith that the House will run for more than 90 days as per the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the UP Legislative Assembly, 1958,” 69-year-old Dixit told PTI in an interview.
Asserting that the elected MLAs of the 17th Uttar Pradesh Assembly — both ruling and Opposition — are interested in smooth conduct of business, he exuded confidence that the House will run for more than 90 days a year.
The sessions have been usually been very brief in the past, irrespective of which party was in power, lasting somewhere between less than a week to little over a week, barring the budget sessions.
Asked as to how he was so confident of having a longer session, he said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has himself expressed his willingness to run the House for a “longer time”.
“Previous governments did not show the same type of willingness,” Dixit, a five-time MLA, said.
According to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the UP Legislative Assembly, 1958, “every year, the Assembly shall ordinarily have three sessions — the Budget session, the Monsoon session and the Winter session and sit for 90 days of which, as for as possible, a session for at least 10 working days shall be convened at the interval of two months.”
On the idea of live telecast of proceedings of the Assembly, Dixit said, “It is a good idea, and we are open to the idea.”
He said that positivity exists within the UP Assembly and it must also be highlighted.
On whether the Opposition could be bulldozed, given the brute strength of the BJP and its allies, which have together bagged 325 of the 403 Assembly seats in the recent elections, Dixit said, “The voice of the Opposition will be heard.”
The Speaker admitted that from the point of view of numbers, the Opposition is weak.
“But, the responsibility of the Opposition is to present alternative policies to the government and to oppose policies which it thinks are not in the interest of the people. In addition to this, the Opposition is supposed to give constructive suggestions to the government.”
Invoking former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the importance of Opposition, Dixit said, “Vajpayee had once said that democracy is not a game of 51-49. Democracy translates to mutual conversation, mutual partnership (paraspar samwaad, paraspar bhaagedaari). Jawaharlal Nehru had said that for a successful democracy, the Opposition should be as strong as the ruling party. There should be mutual cooperation, suggestions and sense of responsibility between the ruling party and the Opposition.”
The Speaker also cited British political theorist, economist, author and lecturer Prof Harold Joseph Laski that the role of Opposition is to propose and to oppose.
Asked as to when the first session was likely to commence, he said the first-time MLAs will be called to the state capital for an orientation and training programme where they will be imparted all the relevant knowledge by veteran MLAs, parliamentarians and by Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST).
“Recently I was in Delhi, where I met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and requested her to come to Lucknow and impart training to the first-time MLAs,” he said.
“After a week-long training session, the House will meet,” he said.
On his election as the Speaker, Dixit said, “During my election, MLAs of opposition parties extended their support to me out of affection and not out of formality. I enjoy good rapport with the ruling party and the Opposition as well.”
Dixit, who has earlier been minister for panchayati raj and parliamentary affairs, was the leader of the BJP in the Legislative Council till recently. He is also a columnist and has a number of books to his credit.