"At present, the House is not in session. The Monsoon Session of the UP Legislative Assembly should be held some time in August and I am optimistic that by then the situation would have changed," the speaker told PTI in an interview.
Only 200 of the 403 MLAs will be able to sit inside the Uttar Pradesh Assembly if social distancing norms are implemented in the House as there are not enough seats, Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit said. However, Dixit is “optimistic” and feels that by the time the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly is convened the situation will improve.
“At present, the House is not in session. The Monsoon Session of the UP Legislative Assembly should be held some time in August and I am optimistic that by then the situation would have changed,” the speaker told PTI in an interview.
When asked to elaborate, Dixit said, “If we adhere to social distancing and leave one seat vacant, we will not have enough seats. There are 403 MLAs. Already there are not enough seats for everyone.”
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“There is a shortage of 10-12 seats. The work goes on as (generally) 10-12 (members) are absent. In these circumstances, if one seat is left vacant then not more than 200 MLAs will be able to sit,” he said.
On being asked that if the pandemic situation persists, whether video-conferencing will be considered for functioning the House, the 73-year-old lawmaker said no decision has been taken so far in this regard.
“A number of meetings are being held via video-conferencing. The prime minister and the UP chief minister have held video conferences. The work culture of the entire world has changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The impact of culture change will be experienced in all directions, and if the need arises, then pondering will be done over it. As of now, there is no such thought,” he said.
At the same time, he virtually ruled out the work from home option. “We cannot do this (work from home) from the Legislative Assembly’s point of view. The reason is that debates take place inside the House, there is communication and questions (are asked) and answers (are given). As of now, there is a remote possibility of this (work from home). But there are many changes, which are taking place due to the pandemic, and it may impact this (Assembly), and when there will be an impact, we will contemplate (on it),” Dixit said.
The speaker also said that a control room has been set up in the assembly through which the MLAs of the state highlight the problems in their constituencies during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
“Lok Sabha Speaker held a video conference with the speakers of all the legislative assemblies. At the meeting, it was decided that a control room will be set up in all the legislative assemblies. Through the control room, the MLAs of the state highlight the problems in their respective assembly constituencies and seek intervention,” Dixit said.
He asserted that under the leadership of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, efforts are underway to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are getting good results as well. Physical distancing is the only way out and people are following it. MLAs are also making people follow social distancing in their respective constituencies,” he said.
At present, there are 307 BJP MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly followed by the Samajwadi Party which has 49 MLAs. The Bahujan Samaj Party has 18 MLAs, while there are seven Congress MLAs in the UP Legislative Assembly. BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has nine MLAs. The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party has four MLAs.
There are three Independent MLAs, while there is one MLA each from the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Apna Dal.