As members of the Opposition disrupted the question hour on Friday in protest against the statement of Forests Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar against Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan at a public meeting at Pathanapuram on Thursday evening, the Assembly completed the day’s business and dispersed within 20 minutes.
When the session began at 8.30 a.m., Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan raised the issue and said Mr. Ganesh Kumar’s remarks against one of the most senior and revered leaders like Mr. Achuthanandan were ‘heinous and despicable.’ Never before had such an instance occurred in the State. There was a groundswell of protest. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy should clarify the government stance on the issue, he said.
Speaker G. Karthikeyan said that it was a serious issue and Mr. Chandy will explain the government’s view. Mr. Chandy described the comments as unfortunate and said that it was not the government’s opinion. He expressed regret and apologised for the government. Mr. Ganesh Kumar will repeal the statement, he said.
Mr. Ganesh Kumar then rose to speak, but was forced to give up in the face of the Opposition’s stiff resistance. Mr. Kodiyeri demanded the Chief Minister to drop Mr. Ganesh Kumar from the Cabinet. When R. Balakrishna Pillai made the controversial Punjab model speech, the late Chief Minister K. Karunakaran had dropped him from the Cabinet. Mr. Chandy should also emulate it. He demanded Mr. Karthikeyan to suspend the Minister.
Mr. Karthikeyan said that he cannot initiate action against a member for the happenings outside the Assembly and called Excise Minister K. Babu to reply to the question on the functioning of Excise Department. While Mr. Babu rose to reply, the Opposition members moved out of their seats and shouted slogans demanding the Minister’s ouster from the Cabinet. When the din reached its peak by 8.50 a.m., Mr. Karthikeyan announced the suspension of Question Hour and Zero Hour, hurriedly completed the rest of the proceedings and dispersed for the day.