Normal business became impossible in the Assembly midway through zero hour on Friday with the Opposition LDF members marching into the well of the House protesting against the government's negative response to their demand for a CBI investigation into the brutal attack on Krishna Kumar, a teacher at a school run by the former Minister and senior UDF leader R. Balakrishna Pillai at Kottarakkara recently.
The Opposition, which initially wanted adjournment of the proceedings to discuss the attack, later turned it into a full-fledged attack on the government on the floor of the House accusing the UDF regime of complicity in the attempt to cover up the incident and, despite Chief Minister Oommen Chandy trying to convince them that the police were doing its best to trace the assailants, they refused to allow the House to function normally till the government responded to the demand for a CBI investigation.
In the course of their heated exchanges with the treasury benches, the Opposition also sought to know how Mr. Pillai, serving one year rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case but currently undergoing treatment at a private hospital, had spoken to the Chief Minister and the media on the issue over phone in violation of prison rules.
Mr. Pillai, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan alleged, had spoken to the Chief Minister as part of a bid to divert the focus of the police investigation.
Earlier, the Chief Minister told the House that he had asked IG of Police (Southern Range) K. Padmakumar to visit Kottarakkara and supervise the investigation. The main obstacle that the police faced was that the teacher was still unconscious and in no shape to give evidence, he said and appealed to the Opposition to introspect whether it was proper to pin responsibility for the incident on anyone when the investigation was in progress.
While the Opposition had the right to hold somebody guilty for political reasons, the government could go only by the findings of the investigation. The government was determined to nab the assailants regardless of their identity, he asserted.
However, both the Leader of the Opposition and Mullakkara Rathnakaran of the CPI, who sought leave for the adjournment motion, demanded to know how Mr. Pillai got to speak to the media when he was serving jail sentence.
They also wondered why the police were not acting on the basis of evidence given by the teacher's wife, who had reportedly stated that only Mr. Pillai and the management of the school had hostility towards her husband.
The government's attempt was to shield those who were really responsible for the attack and the Opposition would hold a sit-in inside the House till the government came up with its response to its demands, Mr. Achuthanandan said.
The LDF members were soon in the well of the House shouting slogans against Mr. Pillai, his son and Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar, and the Chief Minister and refused to heed Speaker G. Karthikeyan's repeated plea to return to their seats.
Finally, after reminding the Opposition members about rulings given by his predecessors against making the House the venue of agitations, Mr. Karthikeyan announced that he was adjourning the House for the day without transacting any further business.
Keywords: Kerala politics