Kerala Assembly will reconvene on July 8 to take up appropriation Bills

The slugfest in the Assembly since June 17 over allegations surrounding the Chief Minister’s office took a plunge on Monday, forcing Speaker G. Karthikeyan to call the developments “most unfortunate” and guillotine all the business listed for transaction till July 4.

As Opposition members crowded around his podium shouting slogans and the Treasury Bench members cried “shame”, the Speaker let the House adopt a resolution by the Chief Minister and quickly went through the formality of passing all the remaining Budget-related demands for grants slated for discussion and passage during this session. The House will reconvene on July 8 to take up the appropriation Bills.

“What has happened in the House today is most unfortunate. Since June 17, it had become extremely difficult for taking forward the normal functioning of the Assembly,” the Speaker said, after expunging from the records certain remarks made by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan about the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s family matters.

The day’s round of the confrontation began when E.P. Jayarajan of the CPI(M) sought the Speaker’s permission to move an adjournment motion to discuss a woman’s complaint against the Chief Minister’s office that one of his staff members had made ‘sexual advances’ towards her as a gratification for getting an opportunity to meet Mr. Chandy to submit a grievance. The Chief Minister said the accused person was a ‘contract employee’ in his call centre for collecting grievances and he had been removed from the call centre on June 19. A case had been registered against him and a police investigation was on.

Revealing the name

Both Mr. Chandy and Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan referred to the complainant’s background in a manner that the Opposition found disparaging to the woman. Mr. Jayarajan asked Mr. Chandy if it did not amount to adding ‘insult to injury’.

He also took exception to the Chief Minister’s office, through a press release, revealing the name of the complainant and said it was an action that violated the Supreme Court’s strict directives. The Home Minister defended the action by stating that her name was mentioned to clarify the reason why the employee was removed from the Chief Minister’s office.

When the Speaker dismissed the demand for the adjournment motion on the basis of the government’s explanation, Mr. Achuthanandan rose to speak. The Speaker stopped him as he started to make certain references to Mr. Chandy’s family affairs. “No, no, no…You cannot say such things in the Assembly. I will not allow that. You are a very senior member,” Mr. Karthikeyan said, directing his staff to switch off the mike given to Mr. Achuthanandan.

Members from both sides were now up on their feet shouting against one another. Mr. Karthikeyan, making no effort to hide his displeasure over the proceedings, adjourned the House for over two hours, before returning to guillotine all the business listed till July 4.

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