Black Friday as Vandalism Rocks Kerala House

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: March 13, 2015, a Friday, had all the ingredients to be recorded as a Black Day in the history of Kerala politics, with the Legislative Assembly witnessing unprecedented vandalism.

The Opposition, in its attempt to prevent Finance Minister K M Mani who is facing allegations of corruption, from presenting the Budget, trashed the Speaker’s dais and even flung out his official chair. But Mani, despite the chaos, managed to wrap up the presentation of his 13th Budget in six minutes flat after the Speaker gestured to him to do so. The Opposition alleged that the Budget presentation was invalid as House procedures were not followed.

The Opposition MLAs also blocked the path of Speaker N Sakthan to prevent his entry into the dais. Around 20 Opposition MLAs, including senior leaders Thomas Isaac and C Divakaran, and 12 watch-and-ward staff were injured in the scuffle.

Protest demonstrations and the Secretariat blockade by the LDF turned violent on the streets with two government vehicles, including a police bus, set on fire. One LDF supporter died. Police had to resort to firing teargas shells and cane charge to control the LDF and Yuva morcha activists. The Opposition had blocked all entry points to the House in the morning itself. Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan and his LDF colleagues were present well before the start of the session at 9 am.

The protest spun out of control as K Kunjahmed, E P Jayarajan, James Mathew, T V Rajesh and V Sivankutty went on a rampage, damaging furniture and equipment on the Speaker’s dais. They toppled the Speaker’s chair and destroyed the microphone unit, digital display, computer and lights.

Meanwhile, women MLAs staged a sit-in in front of the Chief Minister. Amid the din, Jameela Prakasham allegedly bit K Sivadasan Nair on the shoulder, reportedly after the latter tried to block her.  Soon began the strangest-ever Budget presentation in the history of the Assembly. Guarded by ruling front MLAs and the Watch and Ward staff, Mani read out a six-minute-long speech, barely audible in the din.

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The New Indian Express