Similarities in budget speech and news reports coincidental

Speaker G. Karthikeyan on Tuesday ruled that the Opposition allegation of a leak in the budget speech of Finance Minister K.M. Mani was not based on facts and therefore did not hold water.

Giving his ruling on the issue, Mr. Karthikeyan said two budget announcements related to the hike in financial assistance to daughters of widows and revision of pension age figure in the news reports.

The revision of pension age has been in the public domain for quite some time. “Just because the newspapers speculated that the government was thinking on the lines of revising pension age, it cannot be construed as a leak of the budget speech,” the Speaker said.

Similarities in the contents of the budget speech and the news reports can only be viewed as coincidental, the Speaker said.

The leak of the budget speech was brought up by the Opposition shortly before Mr. Mani presented it in the House on Monday. The Speaker had directed the government to conduct an inquiry and submit its reports.

The Finance Minister gave his explanation in the House, following which the Speaker came out with his ruling. Mr. Karthikeyan also referred to two previous instances of allegations that the budget speech had been leaked out.

On both occasions, March 24, 1995, and June 21, 2006, the then Speakers had ruled against it, he said.

‘Bid to tarnish image'

Mr. Karthikeyan said he had taken appropriate legal steps in the matter of R. Selvaraj's resignation as Neyyatinkkara MLA and the criticism against his action amounted to a deliberate attempt to tarnish the prestige of the Speaker and the House.

“It was unfortunate and painful that people who held responsible positions in the Assembly raised baseless allegations and made statements that were against the rules and procedures of the House and amounted to ridiculing the Speaker and the House,” he said referring to the statements made by the former Speaker M. Vijayakumar at a press conference in Kochi recently.

The issue was raised by Congress leader V.D. Satheesan through a point of order in the House.

The Speaker, giving a background of Mr. Selvaraj's resignation and the action he had taken, said he had no option but to accept the resignation letter that had been submitted by the MLA directly in writing and duly signed.

The Legislature Secretary subsequently issued the notification after he had accepted the resignation. Mr. Vijayakumar had criticised his action that was done in accordance to the Constitutional provisions, he observed.

Mr. Karthikeyan, to emphasise his point, referred to earlier resignations in the Assembly and the actions of his predecessors.

He also made a specific reference to Mr. Vijayakumar's action related to the resignation of two MLAs during his term as Speaker.

“It is seen that Mr. Vijayakumar had issued the notification as soon as he received the resignations of George Eden and K.P. Mammoo,” Mr. Karthikeyan said.

(Mr. Eden had resigned to contest the Parliament elections from Ernakulam, while Mr. Mammoo had resigned to enable the then Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar to contest an Assembly byelection).