Kerala

LDF, UDF approach Budget session with an eye on polls

A host of political issues are likely to dominate the Budget session of the Kerala Legislative Assembly that gets underway here on Friday.

The Opposition's demand to remove Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan is likely to loom large over Governor Arif Muhammad Khan's policy address and ensuing discussions.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday accused Mr. Sreeramakrishnan of using the legislature's heft to protect his staff from questioning by the Customs probing the politically tempestuous UAE consulate gold smuggling case.

Earlier, IUML legislator M. Ummer had initiated a notice to table a resolution to remove Mr. Sreeramakrishnan from his office on the charge of lowering the esteem of the House by associating with gold smugglers. The Speaker said that he would allow the motion and had nothing to hide.

The government is approaching the session with a clear eye on the elections. It plans to present an aggressive Budget with an emphasis on welfare economics. The administration's spending plans will highlight populist schemes to improve infrastructure, health care, education, agriculture and social security net.

The government hopes to steer legislative dialogue away from scandals and towards its development agenda. It believes that welfarism in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic had helped the LDF counter the Opposition's recriminatory tactics and savour victory in some measure in the local body polls.

The government hopes to use the session to amplify its election manifesto to replicate the local body poll trend in the Assembly election too.

It also hopes to use corruption cases against UDF leaders to press the Opposition back into defence on the floor. The LDF might politically weaponise the controversy surrounding the alleged Congress-Jamaat-e-Islami poll alliance and the "dominance" of a resurgent IUML against the Congress. In turn, the party will seek to spotlight LDF's "tacit understanding" with SDPI and BJP in over 100 local body wards.

The Opposition feels that it has several arrows in its quiver to target the government. They include the gold smuggling case, Sprinklr scandal, CAG's observations against KIIFB and breach of privilege motion against Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac. Moreover, the UDF is confident that its floor strategy will bring political dividends on the Assembly poll.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2021 11:27:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ldf-udf-approach-budget-session-with-an-eye-on-polls/article33521882.ece

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