Lucknow: In a major embarrassment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, over 150 members of the legislative Assembly lodged their protest against their own party at the Vidhan Sabha during the ongoing session in Lucknow on December 17.
The Assembly was soon echoing with slogans like, ‘Vidhayak Ekta Zindabad (long live MLA unity)’ and ‘BJP Vidhayak Ekta Zindabad (long live the unity of BJP MLAs)’. While, BJP’s top brass, including Deputy Chief Minister Dr Dinesh Sharma and other leaders, jumped in to contain the situation and save the party from further embarrassment, all their efforts failed when protesting MLAs denied obeying the top functionaries.
The move by the BJP lawmakers came as a surprise to all, but opposition parties quickly encashed the situation by extending their support to the saffron lawmakers and joining them in their dharna.
According to sources in Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, the number of MLAs of the ruling party who joined the dharna was more than 150 while the rest were from other parties.
Why did the MLAs PROTEST?
The issue began when BJP MLA from Loni Assembly constituency, Nand Kishor Gurjar, was asked to sit when he was trying to speak against the alleged harassment he faced by the Ghaziabad police about a week ago. Angered on being denied to speak by Uttar Pradesh Assembly speaker, Hriday Narayan Dixit, Gurjar went to the lobby of the Assembly and started a dharna. He was joined by other MLAs and soon the number of MLAs protesting against their own party crossed the mark of 100.
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As the MLAs continued to sit on dharna, the session of the legislative Assembly was suspended for about half an hour. The session was then again suspended for 15 minutes twice, but as the number of protesting MLAs continued to grow and the BJP functionaries failed to control the situation, the Assembly session was adjourned for the day.
Gurjar reportedly alleged, “Now MLAs are not respected, and the officers have started taking commissions from the MLA LAD (local area development) funds. Some people from the party are against me. I have full faith in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and have also felicitated honest officers in the past.” Following this, Assembly speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit told him that his complaint will be heard. However, leader of the opposition, Ram Govind Chaudhary allegedly said, “How will the problem be solved when the MLA is not being given time to speak about his problem?”
Adding more fuel to the fire, Chaudhary reportedly addedd, “This is an insult of the MLA.” To this, BJP MLA Suresh Khanna, who was trying to control the situation, said, “No one has been insulted. The Opposition is making an issue out of nothing.”
Senior BJP leaders Suresh Rana, Suresh Khanna and Dr Dinesh Sharma made several attempts to end the dharna. Sources said that several calls were also made to Delhi but to no avail.
The dharna finally ended with an assurance to Gurjar that his problem will be heard. He reportedly met CM Yogi Adityanath in the evening and apprised him about his problem. The CM, according to sources, reprimanded him for his attitude in the Assembly and asked him to cooperate in maintaining the decorum of the floor.
Nand Kishore Gurjar, BJP MLA from Loni Assembly segment in Ghaziabad, has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently. He was reportedly involved in an altercation with election officials and a video showing the same had also gone viral on social media.
In another instance, his staff and representatives were arrested for violating traffic rules and misbehaving with the cops recently. His minor son was caught for committing an accident while driving at high speed. He was also issued a show-cause notice by state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh when he slapped a food security officer last month.
He had even written a letter to the CM alleging that some people in the party were conspiring to eliminate him.
Trouble Brewing Within For The Saffron Party?
According to a senior journalist, who has covered the Uttar Pradesh Assembly for last many years for a national Hindi channel, “resentment amongst the MLAs of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh was brewing from several days. Earlier too, a similar situation had happened in the same Assembly and in the same party during the regime of Kalyan Singh as Chief Minister.”
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“The reason behind this is the high handedness of the central leadership. There are people within the party who are adding fuel to the fire. The central leadership does not listen to its MLAs and even the ministers are many times unaware about the cabinet decisions of their own department,” the journalist said, requesting anonymity.
He also added that this incident has come as a ray of hope for the Opposition, which believes that this incident will stop the exodus of their party leaders to BJP. “It won’t be a surprise if the boycotted BJP leaders even join other political parties in the coming days if the ruling party fails to contain the situation,” he said.