Opposition boycotts Assembly proceedings after creating tense moments in the House

Opposition leaders protest against police atrocities. Screengrab/MMTV

The Opposition UDF boycotted Assembly proceedings on Friday, the last day of the Budget session, in protest against what it termed "the police atrocities unleashed against women and children" agitating against K-Rail at Madappally near Changanassery on March 17.

The UDF had came into the Assembly carrying large banners and placards questioning the police action at Madappally. Usually such issues of political importance are taken up after the Question Hour, during which potentially explosive questions are largely avoided. There have been exceptions, like during the peak of the solar scam that had rocked the Oommen Chandy ministry and the gold smuggling scandal that broke out during the term of the first Pinarayi ministry. During these instances, proceedings were disrupted right from the Question Hour.

On Friday, Satheesan too broke from tradition and stood up to talk just when the Question Hour began. He called the government anti-women and anti-children, provoking angry shouts from the ruling members. Amid the overwhelming shouts of the ruling side, the Opposition Leader said the government was trying to violently suppress the growing public unrest against a project that no one was interested in.

The continuous shouts of the ruling members disrupted Satheesan's speech causing the opposition members also to shout back. When the Speaker managed to calm things and was about to allow Satheesan to speak, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stood up. "The opposition is purposefully trying to create provocation. This is the Question Hour where posers related to the welfare of the people should be raised. Instead, they are creating unnecessary chaos, " the chief minister said. Question Hour is the only part of the Assembly proceedings that is aired live and the chief minister was hinting that the Opposition was using the chance to tarnish the government's image. "They are interested only in spreading falsehoods, " the chief minister said.

Satheesan kept standing all the while the chief minister was speaking and then said it was improper for the Speaker to allow the chief minister to speak out of turn. "You gave the chief minister an opportunity to speak when my mike was on. You did not even ask my permission, " Satheesan told the Speaker. "He is the leader of the House," Speaker M B Rajesh said.

Apparently infuriated, Satheesan declared that the UDF was boycotting the Assembly in protest against the Speaker's action. As the Opposition members were trooping out, the ruling members kept taunting them. Transport Minister Antony Raju called Muslim League MLA P K Basheer by name and shouted "get out". It looked like a provoked Basheer would storm back into the House, towards the minister, but both ruling and opposition MLAs dissuaded him.

The Speaker guillotined the rest of the proceedings after temporarily halting the proceedings for half an hour.

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