Assembly ruckus: UDF defies Speaker, begins indefinite ‘satyagraha’ in well of House

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition UDF on Tuesday scaled up their agitation in the Assembly. Just when the Question Hour began, before Speaker A N Shamseer could call for the first question, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan announced that five UDF members would begin an indefinite ‘satyagraha’ in the well of the Assembly.

He said the ‘satyagraha’ would continue till their two demands – namely, an assurance on adjournment motions and the withdrawal of “fake” cases against seven UDF MLAs – were met.

The five members are Anvar Sadath, T J Vinod, Uma Thomas, Kurukkoli Moideen and A K M Ashraf. The UDF Parliamentary Party deputy leader and senior Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty wondered why the Chief Minister was not initiating a discussion with the Opposition. “Doesn’t the government want to hear what the Opposition wants to say,” he asked.

The five UDF MLAs then peacefully strolled to the well of the House escorted by the rest of the UDF. All of them then sat on the floor right in front of the ministers shouting mild slogans. They remained largely silent when the Question Hour was on, flaring up only when ruling side MLAs made provocative remarks.

Nonetheless, the latest move, even if done peacefully, seems like a challenge thrown at the Speaker. The Speaker, in his ruling on March 20, had said he was shocked by the “parallel Assembly” held by the UDF members on March 15 when the Speaker had refused the UDF permission to move an adjournment motion on the police assault on UDF councillors of Kochi Corporation in connection with the Brahmapuram fire.

“The honourable members should introspect how such activities would sully Kerala Assembly’s exalted tradition,” the Speaker had said in his ruling and had added: “If such activities are repeated in future, strict action would be taken.”

On Tuesday, the Speaker reminded the Opposition of his ruling. “I have issued a ruling that had very clearly said this was wrong,” the Speaker said. He said never before had a Speaker been shown such disrespect. “The Speaker was even burnt in effigy,” he said.

The UDF members, however, persisted with their low-key sloganeering. Former Speaker and excise minister M B Rajesh quoted a former ruling to establish that the UDF was committing contempt of both the House and the Speaker. “A member cannot criticise directly or indirectly any ruling made by the Speaker,” Rajesh said quoting a former Assembly ruling.

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