For the second day in succession, the Congress-led opposition in the Kerala Assembly on Friday stood firm in their demand seeking the resignation of State Education Minister V. Sivankutty while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan firmly ruled out the resignation.
Sivankutty along with another present legislator — K.T. Jaleel, a former Minister, and four other former legislators will have to face trial after the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Kerala government’s plea to withdraw the cases against the CPI-M leaders for vandalism in the state Assembly in 2015.
While on Thursday the opposition protest began on the floor of the Assembly after Question Hour, on Friday it began as soon as the day’s proceedings began.
Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan rose with the demand that Sivankutty has to go and soon Vijayan got up and pointed out that in the first place, it was wrong on the part of the then Congress-led UDF government to have gone forward in a police case against an incident which took place in the floor of the Assembly.
“This case should have been taken forward by the then Speaker, but it was not done. Just because a Minister has been asked to face trial, I fail to understand why the Opposition is demanding the resignation. Under no circumstances will Sivankutty resign,” said a peeved Vijayan very firmly.
With this, the slogan shouting from the opposition benches increased and after several minutes of this, the entire opposition boycotted the proceedings of the House.
Later speaking to the media in the media room of the Assembly, Satheesan said Vijayan has got his facts wrong as he on Thursday said in no other state Assembly has such a thing happened.
“In our own Assembly an incident occurred in 1970 and so did in the Punjab Assembly when an issue that occurred inside the House was settled by the court. Moreover, Vijayan says that there is no reason for a Minister, who has been asked to face trial, should quit. If that be the case none should forget that leaders like K. Karunakaran, R. Balakrishna Pillai, N. Sreenivasan, K.M. Mani, T.U. Kuruvilla, K.P. Viswanathan and K.K. Ramachandran have all quit as Ministers just because they figured in an FIR or there was a remark in the court,” said Satheesan.
“Vijayan fails to realise the rule of the land is determined by the apex court and it was this court which ruled against Sivankutty and, hence we will not relent until he quits. From today onwards we are going to take the protest outside the Assembly and it will be seen all across the state,” said Satheesan.
The vandalism took place on March 13, 2015 when erstwhile state Finance Minister K.M. Mani was presenting the state Budget for the new fiscal.
The then CPI-M-led opposition had taken a strong stand that Mani, who was accused of taking a bribe of Rs one crore from a bar owner for reopening closed bars, would not be allowed to present the Budget.
When Mani began his speech, the Left legislators went berserk, throwing out the Speaker’s chair from the dais and also damaging the electronic equipment on his table.
The list of the other accused includes former State Minister E.P. Jayarajan, K. Kunju Ahamed, C.K. Sadasivan and K. Ajith, who are no longer legislators, while K.T. Jaleel, the former Higher Education Minister is a legislator now.
Since 2020, the late K.M. Mani’s party — Kerala Congress (M), now led by his son Jose K. Mani moved out from the Congress-led UDF and is presently the third biggest ally of the Vijayan government and has been given a cabinet berth.