Beginning the day’s business, Speaker Satish Mahana said that after several women MLAs had complained to him that they do not get enough opportunities to put up their issues in the House, he had discussed the issue with Leader of the House and chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
“It was then decided that at least a day will be given to the women MLAs and that no male MLA will be allowed to speak on the day. Today is that day,” he said.
The 403-member UP Legislative Assembly has 47 women MLAs, including 22 first-timers.
Question is not if the women MLAs have been allocated one day out of the five business days in the Monsoon Session, the Speaker said, adding that it was significant that the women MLAs have got one day 75 years after Independence. “UP probably has become the first state to do so,” Mahana said, adding that the whole country is looking up to the UP Legislative Assembly.
CM Yogi said that the country’s biggest Assembly is “set to create history today as only women MLAs will speak”. However, the day should have come much earlier, he added. In a lighter vein, he gave advice to the male MLAs to listen to the issues being raked up by the women legislators and “if they realise they were doing something wrong thus far, they should go home and hold both ears and seek forgiveness”. The remark left the House in splits.
The CM also requested the Speaker to allow women MLAs to “speak until they want to, and they should not be bound by any rule or protocol of the House.”. Let them say what they want to, Yogi said.
Intervening on Yogi’s advice, Leader of Opposition and former CM Akhilesh Yadav Akhilesh said, “Everyone is curious to know who has told CM Yogi [who’s a celibate] about the family chores.”
Akhilesh welcomed the move and said that ever since “Satish Mahana has become the Speaker, a lot of new things have come”. He said that one should rise above the party line and ensure that crime against women is stopped.
As Speaker Mahana let the women take up the reins of the House, BJP’s Manju Siwach and Anupama Jaiswal and Samajwadi Party’s Saiyada Khatoon were in the Chair throughout the day.
The day’s proceedings began with the Question Hour. Since it was question number 13 that was asked by a woman, SP MLA Pinki Yadav, the Speaker jumped to the same question directly while giving a verdict that all the other answers to the questions would be treated as read.
After the Question Hour, notices under 301 by 12 women MLAs were accepted by the Speaker. This was followed by notices under Rule 56 by Congress MLA Mona Misra who raked up issues related to price rise, Dr Ragini Sonkar who took up issues related to crime against women and laxity on the part of police, and Puja Sonkar who raked up issues related to unemployment.
This was followed by discussion on diverse topics by the women MLAs.
Hailing the move, BJP’s Anupama Jaiswal said, “UP has achieved many firsts. But this one will go down in history as an example for other states to follow. A lot of credit for this must go to Speaker Mahana.”
Machhlishahr’s SP MLA Ragini Sonkar said, “Leadership has no gender. But we have only 9% women leaders in the country’s politics. In the developed nations, this ratio is 30%. We need to think over this disparity. I am grateful for this novel step taken to let women MLAs speak freely in the state’s Assembly.”