Opposition walks out of Kerala Assembly accusing government of resorting to Modi-style law making

Satheesan accuses LDF of using weight of its numbers in House to despatch two Bills delimiting local body wards for debate and voting, without vetting by select and subject committees

Published - June 11, 2024 09:10 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition on Tuesday walked out of the Kerala Assembly, accusing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) of adopting a “Modi-style” approach to law making. 

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan accused the government of borrowing a page from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political playbook, wherein he muscles sensitive legislation through the Parliament without due deliberation or debate.

Mr. Satheesan said the LDF had used the weight of its numbers in the House to despatch two politically sensitive Bills delimiting local body wards for debate and voting directly and without vetting by the select and subject committees. 

He accused Speaker A.N. Shamseer of permitting Local Self-governments Minister M.B. Rajesh to bypass the procedure. He said Mr. Rajesh neither factored in the amendments proposed by the UDF nor did he take the Opposition into confidence. The government acted in a fascist manner.

He said the Minister pushed the Bill when the Opposition was on its feet, demanding an inquiry into the alleged move to tweak the Excise policy to favour the liquor lobby. He said the government had transgressed on procedure rules and violated the Assembly’s convention. 

Earlier, the Speaker told the government that sending Bills to the subject or select committee was optimal before placing them in the Assembly for debate and voting. Mr. Shamseer’s ruling came after Mr. Satheesan raised a point of order in the House.

For preserving convention

Mr. Shamseer clarified that Mr. Rajesh had explained that the government had sought the Assembly’s sanction to table the Bill directly, a decision made under pressure to complete the delimitation procedure before the local body elections in 2025. Mr. Shamseer said he had examined parliamentary proceedings and the conduct of business in other State Assemblies. He said he found no rule or convention that strictly mandated that subject and select committees vet Bills before sending them to the House for debate and voting. However, the Kerala Assembly upheld convention and the traditional role of committees in law making. Mr. Shamseer’s ruling appeared to have a mild tone of rebuke, and it seemed the Chair hewed strongly to preserving convention.

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