Kerala assembly adjourned, opposition wants minister to go

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 30 (IANS) The Kerala assembly was adjourned on the opening day on Monday as opposition members created a din after Speaker N. Sakthan turned down a plea to discuss the bar bribery case.

The session lasted only around two hours as the Left opposition continued to demand Excise Minister K. Babu’s resignation.

Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who moved an adjournment motion, said when the bribery case surfaced last year, the government defended then finance minister K.M. Mani who quit early this month.

“The allegation against Mani was he took a bribe of Rs.1 crore while the charge against Babu is he took Rs.10 crore and that a portion of the bribe money was handed over to his office by bar owner Biju Ramesh. It’s strange that while Mani has quit, Babu remains in the cabinet. We will not rest till he quits,” said Balakrishnan.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala denied all the points raised by Balakrishnan.

“The two cases are different. While an FIR was registered against Mani, in case of Babu not even an iota of evidence was found during preliminary probe,” Chennithala said.

The minister also said that the Kerala High Court, while going through a lower court order in the bar case, did not indict either the police or the state government.

Babu said a vigilance probe had given him a clean chit in June.

“The assembly was in session till July 30. You never raised the issue then. The Left is raising this issue after keeping quiet for four months. You say you have full faith in courts. So is it not better for you to wait till the judiciary comes out with its observation?” said Babu.

Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan said the Kerala government was in a hurry to give a clean chit to Mani when the opposition first raised the bribery issue last year.

The situation heated up as Speaker Sakthan refused the opposition’s demand for a discussion on the adjournment motion.

As the opposition legislators trooped towards the speaker shouting slogans, the speaker ran through the listed business of the day before adjourning the house for the day.

Later, Achuthanandan participated in a protest march by Left Democratic Front activists outside the assembly to demand Mani’s resignation.

The Bharatiya Janata Party too held a protest march outside the assembly to demand Babu’s removal from the cabinet.

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