THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the CPI(M)-led LDF Opposition continuing its stir against Finance Minister K M Mani, facing bribery charges in bar scam, the Kerala Assembly today adjourned sine die on a stormy note after passing the finance and appropriation bills without a discussion.
When the House assembled after a week-long recess, opposition members marched to the House in a procession demanding withdrawal of the suspension of five of its members, who were facing action after they ransacked the Speaker’s podium on March 13, the budget presentation day.
Though LDF demanded action against UDF MLAs who allegedly attacked their woman MLAs during the melee on budget day, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy rejected the charges. Speaker N Sakthan sought cooperation of the Opposition for smooth functioning of the House but the LDF continued their protest which prompted him to suspend all other scheduled business, including question hour.
The Speaker then took up the introduction and further stages of Kerala Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill and Kerala Finance Bill 2015, which the House passed. As soon as the House began, CPI(M) veteran and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the action against LDF MLAs was “unilateral” and also sought action against UDF members who allegedly misbehaved with their woman legislators.
Categorically rejecting the LDF charge, Chandy said examination of the video footage of March 13 incidents clearly showed that UDF MLAs had not misbehaved with any woman opposition MLA. Justifying the action against five LDF MLAs, Chandy said the government had only acted very leniently as the whole world had seen what actually had happened.
As LDF members continued their protest by moving into the well of the House with placards demanding Mani’s resignation, the FM hurriedly moved both the Bills and the House passed it. Later, the CM informed the Speaker that as there were no more government business, the House may be adjourned sine die. The Speaker had earlier called a meeting of floor leaders of ruling and opposition fronts to work out a solution to end the stalemate in the House after it witnessed unprecedented violence on March 13, which led to suspension of five MLAs- V Sivankutty, K T Jaleel,E P Jayarajan,K Kunjahmmed and K Ajith.
But the meeting failed to arrive at a consensus on the matter. Though the suspended MLAs came to the Assembly Complex, they did not enter the Hall but staged a sit-in at the main entrance. After the session ended, LDF members, led by Achuthanandan, marched out of the House and staged a dharna in the Assembly complex.
The budget session, which began on March 9, was originally scheduled upto April 6. Later talking to reporters at the Assembly media room, Chandy termed the early adjournment of the House unfortunate” and blamed the LDF for their “stubborn” stand. He said the opposition took up the alleged harassment issue of women MLAs to defend their own members who behaved “improperly” inside the House on the budget day.
Chandy also said that by raking up a “non-existent” issue of harassment of women MLAs, the Opposition had actually made things complicated. “It seems the Opposition did not want the House to function smoothly,” the Chief Minister added. The Opposition had been staging protests since the beginning of the Assembly session, demanding Mani’s resignation and insisting that he not present the budget.
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had recently registered a case against Mani in connection with the charge that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licenses.