The Kerala Assembly on Thursday witnessed angry exchanges between the opposition and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was trying his best to defend State Education Minister V. Sivankutty.
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.
On Thursday, senior Congress legislator P.T. Thomas sought leave for an adjournment motion demanding to discuss the resignation of Sivankutty in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Never in the history of the Kerala Assembly has witnessed such vandalism as had happened on March 13th, 2015. Over Rs two lakh property inside the floor of the Assembly was destroyed and it was led by our present Education Minister Sivankutty. It would be good if you can air the visuals in the Victers Channel (this channel airs the online classes in the state) of Sivankutty going berserk with his ‘dhoti’ folded and jumping over the desks. Let the students of Kerala see who is Sivankutty. Can he ever be a role model to the students. I also shudder to think, if Sivankutty continues to be the Education Minister, foreign Universities might go to the extent of not accepting Kerala students. If you (Vijayan) don’t see that Sivankutty is ousted, you too will have to take the responsibility of shielding him,” said Thomas.
Vijayan, replying to the demand, ruled out the resignation of Sivankutty. He said he accepted the verdict of the apex court and also referred to similar acts of vandalism in various State Assemblies in the country.
“The government decided to take legal steps in withdrawing the case and there is nothing wrong in it, as we did it in the general public interest. This has happened before also. The Congress-led opposition has been trying to tinker with the privilege that each member has and such an action is unheard of,” said Vijayan.
“We also know of the manner in which the infamous palm oil case was withdrawn in the past and following the intervention of the court and the strong strictures passed by the apex court, the case still is going on. For the Congress opposition, it has now become a habit to stir up unnecessary things for political needs and this also needs to be seen in that way,” said Vijayan.
Before leading the entire opposition out of the House after the Speaker M.B. Rajesh refused to take up the motion, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan slammed Vijayan.
“Public property has been destroyed and using public money, you (Vijayan) went to all the courts in the country trying to defend this grave vandalism act conducted by your leaders, but you lost that. There is no privilege for anyone who engages in criminal activities and this includes we, legislators also,” said Satheesan.
“How can this Education Minister Sivankutty be a role model to the students and teachers in our state. The whole world has seen the visuals and Kerala has been shamed and it has gone up after even the apex court ruled against what you are trying to defend,” said Satheesan.
Later the entire opposition decided to boycott the day’s proceedings and squatted in front of the Assembly shouting slogans demanding Sivankutty’s resignation.
Outside the Assembly, feeder organisations of both the Congress and the BJP took their position in front and were seen engaging in pushing and pulling the police officials who thwarted the attempt of the protesters to break the police cordon.
Sivankutty was not present in the Assembly as he is recuperating from fever at his house.
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. Jayaraja; 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.