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UP government asks legislators to buy Apple iPad tablets for budget session

The Uttar Pradesh government has asked all state legislators to buy Apple iPads ahead of the state budget session that would begin on February 18. The move appears to be aimed at presenting a paperless budget for 2021-22. A sum of ₹50,000 each will be reimbursed to the lawmakers for buying the iPads.

“Yes, the state government has asked the legislators to buy an Apple iPad before the budget session of the state legislature commencing on February 18, 2021. A sum of ₹50,000 will be reimbursed to them for buying the iPad,” finance minister Suresh Khanna said.

Khanna said centralised procurement and distribution of the device would have taken more time and hence a decision to allow the legislators to buy the Apple iPad, which was found most useful for them, had been taken.

As the state assembly would have to buy about 403 iPads for MLAs (members of legislative assembly) and about an additional 100 iPads for MLCs (members of legislative council), the state government would have required over ₹2.5 crore for the procurement. It may have to incur additional expenditure to buy the equipment for the staff of the two houses of the legislature.

Khanna parried a question about how the state government proposed to provide funds for the purpose. He also refused to answer questions about restoring the Vidhayak Nidhi (legislators’ fund like the MPLAD fund for MPs) before the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The state government has also proposed a special training session for the legislators from February 11 to 13, 2021 to enable them to learn the use of iPad.

“Besides lessons in the use of iPad, experts from the National Informatics Centre will also impart training to legislators in paperless proceedings of the House and submitting questions and other notices online,” said an official.

“Yes, we have received a letter from the Vidhan Parishad secretariat. This is all about dual standards. The BJP used to oppose when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was bringing information technology. It’s now coming in handy for everybody. The state government could have found a permanent solution to the issue of having paperless proceedings by setting up permanent (work) stations for the legislators instead of giving them just iPads,” said Congress MLC Deepak Singh.

SK Dwivedi, former head of political science department at Lucknow University, said, “Digitisation in every sector is a welcome move. The legislators should, however, be properly trained to make them comfortable in the use of technology. As far as the Congress’ reaction to the move is concerned, it’s not healthy. Instead of reacting as the opposition, all the parties should join hands to welcome the move, a major step towards good governance.” Hindustan Times

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