Tamil Nadu

Issue rocks Assembly; DMK members seek removal of Health Minister

Pressing for action: DMK leader M.K. Stalin showing copies of The Hindu at a press meet in the secretariat on Wednesday.

Pressing for action: DMK leader M.K. Stalin showing copies of The Hindu at a press meet in the secretariat on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: S. R. Raghunathan

News reports can’t be cited as evidence of wrongdoing, says Speaker

Waving photocopies of The Hindu report ‘IT raids unearth huge bribe paid for gutkha sale in Tamil Nadu’ and a similar report published in Murasoli (a day later), DMK legislators demanded a debate on the issue in the Assembly on Wednesday.

After Speaker P. Dhanpal denied permission, they staged a walkout. Congress MLAs and the lone member of the Indian Union Muslim League also walked out.

Talking to reporters outside the Assembly, Opposition leader M.K. Stalin demanded the removal of Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar, alleging that his name topped the list of those who had received money along with senior police officials S. George and T.K. Rajendran.

“The Health Minister, who is responsible for saving the lives of people, has received money to allow the sale of banned products. It amounts to attempt to murder. But Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami will not take action against him because he himself is facing charges in connection with bribing voters in the R.K. Nagar bypolls,” he said.

Mr. Stalin said that former Chennai Police Commissioner George had written a letter to the government demanding action against police officials just to deflect attention given his involvement in the bribery issue.

‘Can’t be compelled’

The illegal sale of gutkha and paan products was raised immediately after the Question Hour by Mr. Stalin, but the Speaker said the members could not compel him to hold a discussion on any issue.

“I will allow a discussion only if I am convinced about the merit of the issue,” he said.

Even though Mr. Stalin said diaries seized during the Income-Tax raids in the godowns were clear proof, Mr. Dhanapal said he could not consider newspaper reports as evidence.

For almost 15 minutes, the DMK members insisted on their demand for a discussion.

But the Speaker was unrelenting.

This led to Mr. Stalin staging a walkout along with his party MLAs.

Congress Legislative Party leader K.R. Ramsamy said though members like him wanted the government to function effectively to fulfil the expectations of the people, the reports he was receiving about the government were not encouraging. “You should remain united,” he said, before staging a walkout.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:15:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/issue-rocks-assembly-dmk-members-seek-removal-of-health-minister/article19166449.ece

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