If the Opposition in the Assembly had any inkling about Finance Minister K M Mani’s thinking on participatory pension scheme and raising retirement age of government employees they would not have boycotted the proceedings at the fag end of the day’s proceeding citing irregularity in waiving the time stipulation for concluding the discussion on Kerala Appropriation (No 2) Bill on Monday.
As per rule of procedure of Section 152(2), the Appropriation Bill had to be passed by 1.30 p.m. When G Sudhakaran of the CPM concluded his speech, the Chair gave the ruling that as members from both sides had exceeded the time limit and it would not be possible to pass the Bill by 1.30 p.m., as per rule, he (Dominque Presentation was on the Chair) was waiving the time stipulation and invited M Ummer (Muslim League) to speak. At this stage, deputy leader of the Opposition, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, rose to ask how much time could be allowed to complete the discussion. As the time had already exceeded the stipulated time, the Chair said that remaining members should stick to their time limit. Finance Minister Mani objected to this saying that it would be an injustice to allow his critics more time and limit his time as the Minister. However, he said that he was content with the 30 minutes allotted to him. By the time, Kodiyeri had noticed that the treasury benches were lying vacant as some members had gone for lunch.
Hoping to embarrass the government, he pressed for a voting on the waiver of the time limit on passing the Appropriation Bill.
Sensing danger, treasury benchers tried to prolong the discussion and sent members to bring back all those who had left for lunch. With in a few minutes, the majority of the ruling coalition members, including the Chief Minister, rushed to House. At this stage the Chair said that it had already made the ruling and Kodiyeri demanded voting only after the ruling on waiver was made.
Industries Minister Kunhalikutty said that it was ‘’indecent behaviour’’ on the part of the Opposition in pressing for voting after noticing that some members from the government side had gone to the bathroom.
Kodiyeri, however, said that treasury benches lacked enough numbers when the Chair made the ruling on waiver of time limit and now there was no point in agreeing to voting.
Citing the violation of rules, he led the Opposition in a walk-out. Mani, during his reply, pointed out that the Opposition had walked out while he presented the Finance Bill and it was their lack of respect for democracy which prompted them to behave like this. But the Finance Minister enjoyed the ‘’comfort’’ caused by the absence of the Opposition while he announced his move to go for participatory pension scheme for new government employees and increase retirement age.