Assembly cut short for second consecutive day; reconciliation looks remote

Representational Image| Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly on Friday wound up the day's proceedings quickly than even March 16. If the House stretched 17 minutes on Thursday, Speaker A N Shamseer rushed through the day's agenda amid vociferous Opposition shouting and cleaned up the day in 10 minutes flat. Thursday, March 17, also qualifies to be the shortest day in the Assembly during the second Pinarayi Vijayan ministry.

The Speaker came in on the dot at 9 a.m. and went straight to the questions. Though Opposition Leader V D Satheesan was on his feet wanting to make a point, it looked as if the Speaker would ignore him. But when the Opposition Leader persisted, the Speaker who seemed determined to ignore the Opposition have him a brief chance.

Satheesan told the Speaker that the complainants had become the accused. He was referring to the non-bailable charges slapped on the seven UDF members for a slew of grave charges, including rioting, obscenity, assault to deter public servants from discharging their duties, and voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

Some of the provisions could invite imprisonment for up to 10 years.

It was the UDF who had originally complained of violence against them. Revolutionary Marxist Party MLA K K Rema has a broken arm and Congress's Suneesh Kumar Joseph had to be shifted to the Medical College ICU. Rema and Suneesh are among the five UDF MLAs against whom the non-bailable charges have been framed. The other five are Uma Thomas, Roji M John, Anwar Sadat, P K Basheer, and Anoop Thomas.

However, the two CPM MLAs, and the Watch and Ward staff, the UDF had accused of "kicking" and "manhandling" them were slapped minor non-bailable charges. In fact, no case has been registered in a complaint filed by K K Rema. However, a case has been registered in a complaint filed by the deputy chief marshal of the W&W staff accusing Congress veteran Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan of "cruelly attacking" him.

Inside the Assembly, the Opposition Leader wanted to register his complaint for all that had happened but the Speaker cut the Opposition Leader short. "The point is clear," he said, talking over Satheesan. The Speaker's body language suggests that his already minimal tolerance for Opposition trouble has been fully exhausted.

The Speaker then attempted to resume the Question Hour, causing the UDF MLAs to dash to the Speaker's podium carrying placards and shouting loud slogans.

The Speaker quickly called off the day accusing the UDF of unruly behaviour.

Later, talking to reporters, Satheesan said the UDF would not cooperate with the Speaker for the smooth conduct of the Assembly until its concerns were addressed and demands met.

The UDF's major worry is the government's move to curtail its power to move adjournment motions. "This has been a.rigjt enjoyed by the Opposition for quite a long. We cannot allow Pinarayi Vijayan to snatch it away from us," he said.

Further, Satheesan said the government was a clear plan to deliberately provoke the Opposition. "Fake cases were foisted on our MLAs before. The all-party reconciliation meeting began at the Speaker's office on Thursday. We knew of this only today after we got a copy of the FIR," the Opposition Leader said.

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