BJP’s Nitin Agarwal elected Deputy Speaker of UP Assembly

Lucknow: Nitin Agarwal, the rebel Samajwadi Party MLA, was elected deputy speaker of the 17th Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Monday by defeating his only rival, Narendra Singh Verma, of the SP.

The voting for electing the deputy speaker started soon after the House assembled at 11 am and concluded at 3 pm and the result was announced by Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit at 4 pm. After the formal announcement of the poll results, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, leader of opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary and Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party members escorted Nitin Agarwal to the seat of deputy speaker adjacent to the seat of leader of opposition.

Against the total strength of 403 members, 368 MLAs voted of which four votes were declared invalid. Nitin Agarwal polled 304 votes while Narendra Singh Verma got only 60 votes. The Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party boycotted the election while the rebel MLAs of both the parties voted either in favour of the BJP or the SP.

The ruling BJP had fielded rebel SP legislator Nitin Agarwal as candidate for the post of deputy speaker. Despite not having the numbers, the main opposition SP too had filed the nomination of its candidate Narendra Verma for the post.

The total strength of the BJP in the House is 304. Samajwadi Party has 49 MLAs, Bahujan Samaj Party 16, Apna Dal (Sonelal) nine, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party four. There are four independents, two unattached members while seven seats are vacant. There is also one nominated member from the Anglo Indian community.

The SP members protested against the election and wore black badges.

As soon as the proceedings of the House began, leader of opposition and SP leader Ram Govind Chaudhary said “this election is going to be a blot on the glorious tradition of the largest state assembly of the country as the deputy speaker of the assembly is always from the opposition”. He demanded an all-party meeting to debate over the issue and cancellation of the election of deputy speaker.

Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit, however, rejected the contention of Ram Govind Chaudhary. He said the voting would commence after the obituary reference – the death of former UP chief minister and former Governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh and other former MLAs.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna, however, countered Chaudhary saying there was nothing unusual in election of deputy speaker as in a dynamic society many old traditions were replaced by new practices and conventions.

“Both the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party violated the tradition by not holding the election of deputy speaker when they were in power from 2007-12 and 2012-17. For the last over four years, the Samajwadi Party, due to intense factionalism and dynastic politics, could not give a candidate for the post of deputy speaker and the BJP was in favour of a deputy speaker so the election is being held,” Suresh Khanna said and added, “The charges levelled by the SP are baseless… the BJP followed the established tradition by supporting SP MLA Nitin Agarwal for the post of deputy Speaker.”

Khanna also contradicted the claims of cross voting by the BJP MLAs.

He, however, said the rebel BSP MLAs supported SP candidate Narendra Singh Verma.

Taking a jibe at the SP, Khanna said, “It was the responsibility of the SP to mobilise support of the entire opposition for its candidate but they failed as against the total strength of 78 MLAs of opposition parties, the SP candidate polled only 60 votes.”