Kerala Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes and an Opposition walkout during zero hour on Wednesday over the Sabarimala tragedy which had claimed 103 lives.
The Opposition members rushed into the well of the House alleging gross insensitivity in the government's handling of the tragedy, bringing the proceedings to a halt for a brief while. The first to move into the well of the House was Babu Prasad of the Congress who took strong objection to Devaswom Minister Ramachandran Kadannappalli's response to the Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion on the issue. He was soon joined by other Opposition members.
Although Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan rose to offer clarifications on what the Devaswom Minister had said, the Opposition members were in no mood to listen to him. With the Opposition members beginning an argument with Speaker K. Radhakrishan, who repeatedly appealed them to return to their seats, Mr. Balakrishnan could hardly make himself audible. The Speaker could get the Opposition members back to their seats only after some heavy persuasion.
Once order was restored, the Home Minister appealed to the Opposition not to politicise the disaster which had claimed 103 lives and saddened the entire nation. The government was not opposed to the Opposition pointing out any failure in its handling of the tragedy. The government had decided to hold a judicial inquiry into the mishap to bring out any failure on the part of the various government agencies, he added.
Earlier, the Devaswom Minister said that the government had done everything possible to provide assistance to the next of kin of those killed in the mishap and to transport the bodies to their homes. The tragedy had occurred at a most unexpected place. The reasons for the mishap were being examined and corrective action taken, the Minister said.
Seeking leave for the adjournment motion, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan (Congress) said that what was in evidence during the entire tragedy and after was gross insensitivity on the part of the government. Endorsing his view when leading the Opposition walkout, Congress deputy legislature party leader G. Karthikeyan said that what had happened at Pulmedu, where around 2.5 lakh devotees had gathered to witness the "Makaravilakk", was a government-made tragedy. The government's attempt, he said, was to cover up its failure to act with sensitivity both before and after the tragedy.