Kerala Assembly ruckus: UDF's self goal and CPM's strange disinterest in Speaker's CCTV

Oppn MLAs lay siege to Speaker's chamber during Assembly session on Wednesday. Photo: Special Arrangement

The narrow square-like space along the fairly wide first floor circular corridor of the Assembly where the triangular UDF-Watch & Ward-LDF scuffle took place on March 15 was made virtually inaccessible by the airtight crowd of contenders.

Result: No one, not even a single participant, is exactly sure what happened right in front of Speaker A N Shamseer's office. What's more, even the visuals captured on mobiles raised on the giraffe-neck arms of onlookers (journalists, Assembly staff and the PAs of MLAs) standing on ballet toes had failed to provide an accurate picture.

So, the event was perfect for the viral spread of competing versions. UDF says senior leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan was roughed by the Watch and Ward (W&W) deputy marshal. This deputy marshal, in turn, complained to the police that it was Radhakrishnan who had "cruelly" beaten him up.

UDF says its women legislators were arm-twisted, kicked and dragged by women W&W. After a few hours, the women who were found admitted in the Medical College were the white and white women of the W&W corps.

It looked like anyone could come up with one's own version of what happened and get away with it. It will work fine till one side finds that one of its versions has been contradicted by another from its own stable. To whoever this happens is in danger of losing the perception battle.

The most embarassing contradiction in messaging has come from the UDF. Opposition Leader V D Satheesan has repeatedly stated that CPM MLAs H Salam and Sachin Dev had kicked Revolutionary Marxist Party MLA K K Rema. He has attributed her broken arm to the brutal behaviour of these two MLAs and have called for their suspension.

But these MLAs go around showing all who care a news clipping in which Rema clearly states that she was not physically hurt by the ruling party MLAs.

Rema is not even sure that the ruling MLAs had kicked Suneesh Kumar Joseph who had to be shifted to the ICU on the day of the bedlam. "I heard Suneesh was kicked but I did not see anything," Rema is heard telling reporters. The only thing she says is that the ruling party MLAs were yelling at them with violent intent.

The CPM side, too, has made some outrageous blunders. They give the impression that they are not convinced by Rema's hand injury. In channel debates and Facebook posts they gleefully insinuate that Rema is faking her fracture.

The fact that she had got her arms bandaged in the government-run Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram seems to have gone over their head. Eager to ridicule Rema, one of the CPM Facebook pages carried a photograph of Congress MLA Shafi Parambil bandaging Rema's arm. This photograph was shown up as proof of the Congress-Rema conspiracy to undermine the LDF government.

Fact was, on March 15 when he is shown plastering Rema, Shafi was in his constituency in Palakkad attending Youth Congress programmes.

This unclear picture of what happened on March 15 is also the LDF's strength. "The Opposition Leader says ruling party MLAs had kicked Rema and other UDF MLAs. If so, I challenge him to release a visual that could prove his charge beyond doubt," CPM MLA H Salam told reporters on Friday. "I even urge news channels to release any visual in which we can be seen kicking UDF MLAs. Let the people know the truth," he said.

Here, then, is an obvious question if they are so desperate for the people to know the truth. Why not ask the Speaker to release the March 15 visuals from CCTV camera perched right atop the door of the Speaker's office?

Despite repeated proddings by reporters, both Salam and Sachin, the two accused CPM MLAs, refused to make such a demand. "We will never ask for it. It is up to the Speaker to decide," Salam said.

Don't you want the truth to come out and silence the Opposition Leader? "Making such a demand does not fall within the ambit of an MLA," Salam held on.

It feels strange that you, after challenging everyone to produce visuals of the event, are not seeking perhaps the most authentic recording of the March 15 scuffle. "Perhaps our Parliamentary Party meeting will take such a decision," Salam said.

Won't this give the impression that you are fearing something. "I think I have answered the question many times," Salam said.

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