Kerala assembly session begins Monday


Thiruvananthapuram : On the eve of second session of the new Kerala assembly that begins here Monday, both the ruling Congress-led United Democatic Front and the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Left Democratic Front — separated by a mere four seats, excluding the speaker — were preparing to make it issue-based.

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Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will be banking on what he claims is the near complete success of his 100-days programme and securing full central support for long-pending projects such as the Palakkad Coach Factory, Metro Rail and Vizhinjam Port.

The opposition will seek to give Chandy sleepless nights in the 1992 palm oil import case, which the vigilance department is reinvestigating, focussing on the role of the Congress’ chief whip P.C. George.

George’s petition to the president of India and the chief justice of the supreme court forced vigilance judge P.K. Haneefa to withdraw from the case Saturday.

“Chandy’s government failed to provide support to even the judiciary and this forced the judge to relinquish the case,” former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan said.

“He was using George as a tool to attack the judiciary and managed to get what he wanted through his efforts,” Achuthanandan said, indicating that this would be a major issue during the month-long assembly session.

The Kerala Assembly has 140 elected and one nominated member from the Anglo-Indian community. There are 72 members on the treasury benches, excluding the speaker, and 68 in the opposition.

Three-time CPI-M legislator Saju Paul told IANS that it was going to be an interesting session because, unlike previous assemblies, there was now a wide array of experienced legislators.

“The present government has certainly taken a front seat when it comes to gimmicks and publicity, but when it came to real action, what did they do? Fever is raging across the state and authorities are slowly waking up,” said Paul.

The treasury benches are not unarmed. They have a few rounds of ammunition, including the ongoing vigilance and assembly investigation into the manner in which Achuthanandan’s son got a key post in a state-run organisation.

“We do not underestimate anyone and are quite prepared to handle any onslaught from the opposition but, mind you, we too have a few aces up our sleeve. This time we will ensure that all of us are on the floor of assembly,” said George.