In an unprecedented and embarrassing protest, two Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) MLAs stripped off their kurtas in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha while Governor BL Joshi was addressing a joint sitting of the state legislature on the opening day of the budget session on Wednesday. To make matters worse, parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan said that the two MLAs — Sudesh Sharma and Veerpal Singh Rathi — should have gone all the way while undressing instead of removing only their shirts.
The episode left women legislators in the House red-faced. The stunned women covered their faces with scarves and sheets of paper and later registered their protest with the Speaker. They were equally annoyed by Azam Khan's response.
The proceedings were drowned in the Opposition's ruckus. As pandemonium prevailed, the Governor left the House after reading the opening and concluding parts of his address. BJP MLAs boycotted the Governor's address.
The RLD MLAs were protesting the non-payment of dues to the state's cane farmers, the largest chunk of whom are based in west Uttar Pradesh where the RLD has its roots. The farmers need to be paid about Rs 2,000 crore. Other RLD MLAs waved banners, which carried their demand. The protesting MLAs were unrepentant and said that they were proud to have drawn the attention of the House, the government and the media towards a "burning problem" concerning the farmers.