Opposition campaign likely to lose edge

Other things remaining the same, the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) would have returned to the Assembly on Monday after an extended weekend recess with an agitation outside the House and a potentially strong attack against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy over the ‘solar scam’ inside the House.

However, with a woman coming up with sexual exploitation charges against Janata Dal (Secular) legislator Jose Thettayil, that script appears to have suffered a setback.

The Opposition leadership has called for an Assembly march on Monday, primarily to take its campaign against the Chief Minister on the floor of the Assembly to the people.

All the LDF leaders are set to converge in the capital for the march, which would be a major collective onslaught on the government, particularly against Mr. Chandy. The agitation outside would certainly have its strong echo in the House and the Opposition is unlikely to allow smooth conduct of the Budget scrutiny for which the House session has been primarily convened.

However, the Opposition campaign has lost some of its edge with the police registering a case against Mr. Thettayil on a complaint from the woman hailing from Aluva in Ernakulam district. Mr. Thettayil has alleged a conspiracy against him, denied the woman’s charge and accused her of having possibly morphed the images in the video that she had given to the police as evidence against him. Although there is no formal confirmation from him, he has also reportedly offered to step down as MLA if the LDF leadership made such a demand on him. The LDF leaders have already had informal consultations on the issue, but would consider the issue together only on Monday.

Top leaders of the LDF told The Hindu that the LDF would not stand in the way of any investigation on such a charge.

The Opposition, they said, would welcome any such investigation but wanted the Chief Minister to subject himself to similar treatment by the law enforcement agencies. Such charges against any individual would not distract the LDF, they said.

They also dropped sufficient hints that if Mr. Thettayil chose to vacate his membership of the Assembly over the issue, they may not stand in his way. But such a question had not so far come before them and the LDF would take a collective view of the issue as and when required, they said.

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