The Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the largest in the country with over 400 members, will conduct a three-day monsoon session starting Thursday. The most populous state in the country is currently grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.
August has been tough for the Yogi Adityanath government, which lost two senior cabinet ministers - Chetan Chauhan and Kamala Rani Varun - to the deadly illness within days. A few other ministers and even the state BJP unit chief, Swatantra Dev Singh, tested positive for the virus. Some of those infected have been discharged after testing negative while some are still in isolation.
The assembly session will have only two working days. The duration of the session has been curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uttar Pradesh Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit said.
The opposition is likely to corner the government in the assembly over a recent spate of crimes against women. Brahmin politics is likely to be in focus weeks after gangster Vikas Dubey was killed in an encounter and an independent Brahmin MLA from east UP was arrested by the police in a criminal case.
The assembly administration is taking all the precautions to prevent an outbreak in the assembly. Last week, 600 staff members of the house were asked to take coronavirus tests and 20 of them were found to be positive for the virus.
The authorities have also ensured that social distancing is maintained inside the assembly. Seating areas have been specially marked with COVID-19 protocols. The areas like visitors' gallery have been taken over by the authorities to make seating arrangements of MLAs while maintaining safe gap between them.
An advisory sent to the media says only those with COVID-19 negative test results will be allowed to enter the assembly premises; they will report from one specific location. Only Doordarshan and the news agency ANI will be allowed to telecast the proceedings live.
Uttar Pradesh has reported over 1,62,000 coronavirus cases including over 2500 deaths.