Limits of Speaker's speech. Opposition leader's concern and M B Rajesh's assurance

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly VD Satheesan and Speaker MB Rajesh (right).

Right at the outset, opposition leader V D Satheesan made his reservations clear about the newly-elected Speaker M B Rajesh's statement that he would speak politics outside the Assembly.

"This is the first time that anyone who had been elected to this august position had made such a remark," Satheesan said inside the House on Tuesday when he rose to congratulate the 23rd Speaker of the Kerala Assembly.

When his turn came, the Speaker clarified. "I did not mean that I would comment on issues related to party politics. I would speak only about general political issues," he said. Rajesh also assured the House that his public interventions would be in keeping with the exalted status of the Assembly.

The opposition leader began by seeking "fair" space for the opposition, indirectly implying that it was denied under Rajesh's predecessor P Sreeramakrishnan. "I hope your leadership would give stress on running the Assembly in a more fair manner. I have strong belief that you would provide full protection to the opposition," he said.

It was then that Satheesan made his disappointment known. "Your statement that you would speak politics outside the Assembly had caused us some pain. Such a remark was never uttered by anyone who was appointed to the post," Satheesan said. "If you speak politics outside the Assembly, we would naturally be forced to respond to that. That can cause tensions. We in the opposition will not be able to hide our resentment (against what the Speaker had said outside) inside the House. This will disrupt Assembly proceedings. So I humbly request you to avoid such things," Satheesan said.

He pointed to K Radhakarishnan, the Speaker of the 12th Kerala Assembly and now a Cabinet minister, as an exemplary model whom Rajesh could emulate.

The opposition leader also promised the new Speaker full cooperation. The Speaker promised that the rights of the opposition would be fully protected.

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