Turmoil and outrage in Kerala Assembly

Opposition MLAs marching out of the Legislative Assembly in Thiruvananthapuram after boycotting the session on Monday.

Opposition MLAs marching out of the Legislative Assembly in Thiruvananthapuram after boycotting the session on Monday. | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

Turmoil and outrage seemed to reign over the Legislative Assembly on Monday as Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition legislators staged a raucous protest against the recent "CPI(M)-sponsored SFI attack" on the regional office of Rahul Gandhi, MP, in Wayanad.

As soon as Speaker M. B. Rajesh stepped up to the rostrum, Opposition MLAs carrying banners denouncing the attack trooped onto the well of the House. They chanted slogans blaming Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the widely condemned wanton violence in Wayanad and alleged that he had orchestrated the attack to divert public attention from the diplomatic channel gold smuggling scandal plaguing the administration.

Notably, at least six Opposition legislators sported dark shirts. Of late, black has emerged as a symbol of UDF protest against the government after the police allegedly stopped persons wearing dark-coloured COVID-19 face masks from attending Mr. Vijayan's public functions. Mr. Rajesh's repeated warning that signs and banners were not allowed in the House seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Provoked by the UDF's apparent attempt to single out Mr. Vijayan for the attack, LDF legislators moved somewhat menacingly towards the Opposition benches. The almost deafening verbal face-off between the two sides drowned out Mr. Rajesh's invitation to the Opposition to move the motion to decide whether the House should adjourn to discuss the attack on the MP's office.

Later, Mr. Vijayan claimed that the UDF had flinched away from pressing the motion because it had no case against the government.

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan said the ruling front's ominous bid to unleash violence against Congress legislators in the Assembly had prompted the UDF not to press the adjournment motion and impede the day's proceedings instead.

Mr. Satheesan criticised Mr. Rajesh's "decision to confine journalists" covering the Assembly to the press gallery and media rooms. Mr. Satheesan termed the alleged direction "authoritarian and Prime Minister Modi-like". Later, Mr. Rajesh denied he had given any order to limit journalists' freedom of movement.

“I had directed the Watch and Ward to pre-empt any security lapse, given the political climate. Maybe, the direction was miscommunicated. I immediately rectified the anomaly,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Rajesh took strong exception to alleged incidents of journalists filming Assembly proceedings from the press gallery on mobile phones. “It is a severe breach of legislative privilege, and an inquiry is under way,” he added.

Soon, the Speaker read the obituary reference and hurried through the motion to send various Bills to the subject committee before adjourning the Assembly for the day. Later, UDF legislators held a mock sitting outside the House.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 5:38:03 am |