THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though the proceedings in the Assembly had scaled up towards near unanimity in addressing the soaring prices of essential commodities in the state, the bar scam and the demand for the resignation of Excise Minister K Babu was kept alive for a short while on Tuesday, asserting it with a second walkout in a single day.
However,the Opposition didn’t go beyond a limit for a full-scale disruption of the proceedings like on the opening day of the session. A joint foot put by the treasury and opposition benches on the Bill for the welfare of Non-resident Keralites was indicating an Opposition strategy of blowing hot and cold. On the leverage, as Opposition Leader, V S Achuthanadan had come up with a submission but hung it on the Bar board soon, giving a whiff of new energy for the Left to raise the issue. The charge of VS was that, though, he had given three complaints to the Vigilance wing, the director had bothered to give a reply to only one, that too vaguely . Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala reminded that there was no valid or corroborating evidence to prosecute Excise Minister K Babu, and hence an FIR cannot be filed.
However, the poser of A K Balan (CPM) on why a detailed probe was not held on what happened to the Rs27 crore collected by the Bar Hoteliers Association, buoyed the Opposition members to make a surge to the well.
Even then, the Home Minister stuck to his guns.
Proving the calculations of the ruling front wrong initially, the Opposition didn’t fire with the Bar canon when the day’s proceedings commenced.
CPI legislature party leader C Divakaran, while speaking on his notice for an adjournment motion on the ‘ineptitude’ of the government in arresting the soaring price of essential commodities was close to ground- level reality. He had a dig at the ruling benches saying that they were only concerned about amassing bribe money and advised them to give a share of it for payment of subsidies to alleviate the day-to-day livelihood issues of commoners.
The government was well prepared to deal with the allegations. Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob admitted that the price of a few commodities was indeed on the rise but was unwilling to buy other arguments of the Oppossition.
He also listed out the slew of measures taken to cushion the impact of the price rise, and asserted that no scheme,including the Rs1 /kg rice for BPL families, has been withdrawn as campaigned. Co-operation Minister C N Balakrishnan was not on a confrontational path and pleaded that there was indeed some anomalies and misgivings in the Consumerfed affairs, but it has been put on a fast-track of recovery.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy capped it with an admission that price rise in indeed a reality but the government has made interventions within its capacity. Without agitating the Opposition,with figures in hand,he also said that substantially higher amount has been sanctioned for Supplyco,Consumerfed and Horticorp, compared to the allocation during tenure of the former LDF government.