Opposition thwarted for second consecutive day; Satheesan accuses Speaker of partisanship

For the second day in a row, Speaker A N Shamseer on Thursday refused to entertain an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition UDF. Later, after swarming around the Speaker’s dais and shouting slogans for nearly an hour, the Opposition boycotted the rest of the proceedings.

“This should not be seen as our weakness. It is just that we are not interested in creating the kind of pandemonium that you people are known to create,” Opposition Leader V D Satheesan said before he led the boycott of the House.

“But if this style of functioning is persisted with, the UDF would go ahead with massive protest programmes,” he warned.

Satheesan accused the Speaker of colluding with the Chief Minister to deprive the Opposition of its rights. “You are unfortunately standing with the arrogance and hubris of the Chief Minister and ministers,” Satheesan said.

The notice for the adjournment motion, to temporarily suspended Assembly proceedings for the day to discuss an issue of great urgency, was served by Congress MLA M Vincent. The issue picked for Thursday was the failure of KSRTC to pay salaries to its employees.

The Speaker outrightly rejected permission, and went straight to the next agenda on the list. He gave two reasons for the rejection. One, the subject of the adjournment motion had already come up as a question during the Question Hour earlier in the day. Two, the High Court was about to pronounce a verdict on the issue on March 6. The issue being sub judice, it could not be taken up in the Assembly. The Speaker cited clause 52(7) of the Assembly Rules and Procedure, which prohibits a discussion on issues under the consideration of courts, to back his decision.

Opposition Leader V D Satheesan expressed his strong disapproval. He cited the rulings of earlier Speakers during LDF rule to emphasise that adjournment motions, a special right conferred on the Opposition, had always been given precedence even if the same issue was sought to raised through other Assembly businesses like Question Hour or Calling Attention or Submission.

The Speaker, too, had his grouse. He objected to Satheesan’s remark that he had denied permission for the adjournment motion on March 1 summarily, without citing any clauses. “It was wrong for the Opposition Leader to tell the media that the chair had dismissed the motion without reason. I had specifically invoked clause 52(3) while rejecting the motion yesterday,” Shamseer said.

The Speaker then went on with the business of the House, unmindful of the UDF members shouting before him. In such instances, when the Opposition makes smooth functioning nearly impossible, it is usual for speakers to rush through the proceedings and end the days proceedings in a matter of minutes.

On Thursday, it was as if the Speaker was determined to conduct the business despite the unruly shouts of the Opposition. The Opposition tried various ways to draw the Speaker’s attention; an MLA was found attempting to claber up the dais, some erected banners in front the dais to block the Speaker’s view. However, Shamseer seemed determined to carry on with the proceedings as if nothing had happened.

After a point, the Opposition announced the boycott. The House functioned with just the ruling side.

The Opposition suspects that the denial of two consecutive adjournment motions was the ruling front’s undemocratic way of getting back at it. “This is pure vendetta,” a UDF MLA said.

It is felt that the motions on the first two days – police atrocities and Life Mission bribe scandal – had caused serious embarrassment for the government, especially Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

It is also said that the CPM was deeply disappointed with the Speaker for allowing the Opposition to have its way in the first two days of the session.

On February 28, on the day Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan moved his motion on the bribe scandal, an enraged Chief Minister was seen asking whether the Speaker had not heard the MLA making false and defamatory charges against him. It was seen as a cue to the Speaker to rein in the Opposition.

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