Oppn. boycotts Assembly, stages mock sitting outside

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition boycotted the Assembly on Thursday and staged a satirical sitting in front of the Assembly complex.

The MLAs were irked that Speaker M.B. Rajesh had denied them leave to move an adjournment notice to discuss the "incriminating revelations" against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The UDF claimed the "controversial disclosures" were detailed in a recent show-cause notice served by the Customs Commissionerate (Preventive) to the suspects in the politically touchy UAE consulate-linked gold smuggling case.

The UDF legislators divided themselves theatrically into treasury and Opposition benches in front of a phalanx of live television cameras.

Congress legislator N. Shamshudeen and IUML MLA P.K. Basheer played the Speaker and Chief Minister, respectively.

Congress member P.T. Thomas read out the adjournment motion the Speaker had denied him in the House.

Mr. Thomas alleged that Sarith, an accused in the smuggling case, had told the Customs that he had collected a "packet of foreign currency" from an official in the government Secretariat and handed it over to UAE consulate officials.

The official wanted the "packet" delivered to Mr. Vijayan. The latter was in UAE on an official visit during the previous LDF government.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan demanded Mr. Vijayan's resignation.

Earlier in the House, the Speaker said the UDF had moved the notice based on some questionable statements made by an accused in the case. He could not allow a discussion under Rule 50 based on such assertions.

Moreover, the judiciary was considering the case at multiple levels. Mr. Rajesh rejected Mr. Satheesan's argument that the House had discussed comparable subjects in the past. “Precedence cannot overrule acts and rules,” the Speaker said.

Law Minister P. Rajeeve pointed to media reports that suggested the accused in the gold case had given statements against the political executive under custodial duress.

Hence, Mr. Rajeeve said, the Assembly could not allow a discussion aimed at character assassination of persons elected to high constitutional office. Moreover, the rules banned such defamatory discussions. The judiciary was also considering the case.

The UDF members raised slogans against Mr. Vijayan and trooped out of the House in protest. They staged a sit-in protest outside the Assembly chamber briefly before staging the mock session outside the gate.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 6:04:20 PM |

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