It will help in better implementation of schemes, says official

As the protest against the bill for indirect election of mayors and chairmen of local bodies intensified after it was passed by voice vote in the Vidhan Sabha on Monday, the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday defended the legislation.

An official spokesman said indirect election would help in better implementation of schemes and ensure better coordination between the local bodies and the government. Additional Cabinet Secretary Ravindra Singh told journalists here that the protest against the legislation lacked basis.

In the meantime, 100 Samajwadi Party, Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal MLAs, who began an indefinite dharna in the well of the Assembly against the legislation and the passage of the budget were bodily removed from the House around 1 a.m. Monday.

Accusing Chief Minister Mayawati of adopting an autocratic approach, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shivpal Singh Yadav said the Samajwadi Party had launched a protest to highlight corruption and autocratic rule and would not rest till Ms. Mayawati was ousted from power.

Likening Ms. Mayawati's rule to the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Mr. Yadav said the death knell of dictatorial and autocratic regimes was sounded worldwide, and a similar fate awaited the Mayawati regime.

Talking to journalists, he said the Urban Local Bodies (Amendment) Bill would deprive the people of their right to choose their representatives.

Referring to the removal of the Opposition MLAs from the Assembly, he alleged that the action was ordered by the Cabinet Secretary (Shashank Shekhar Singh), and not by the Speaker.

The Bharatiya Janata Party staged a dharna near the Lucknow Municipal Corporation office. Addressing the protesters, State unit president Surya Pratap Shahi said that if the BJP came to power, action would be taken against all those responsible for infringing upon the people's right to elect their representatives.

BJP national vice-president Kalraj Mishra said the days of the Mayawati government were numbered, and it would meet the same fate as the Samajwadi Party regime in 2007.