THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress nominee Palode Ravi, representing the Nedumangad segment in the Assembly, has been elected deputy speaker. He defeated Kanhangad MLA E Chandrasekharan of the CPI, in the polls held by secret ballots (74-65) on Wednesday. Palode Ravi, a three-time legislator, succeeds N Sakthan, who is the current Speaker of the Assembly.
CPM legislator T M Thomas Isaac didn’t cast his vote, as he was out of the town to attend a summit on climatic change. Former minister K M Mani, ]who has been admitted to a hospital here for the past couple of days owing to minor health issues, made it to the Assembly, but left after casting his vote. In the 141-member Assembly, the Anglo Indian nominee has no voting right and the seat of disqualified MLA P C George remains vacant, making the total effective strength of the House 139.Including the Speaker, who was entitled to take part in the voting to elect the deputy speaker, there were 74 members in the stable of the ruling front. The LDF had 65 members, including K B Ganesh Kumar, to support its candidate.After the elevation of N Sakthan as Assembly Speaker, necessitated by the demise of G Karthikeyan while serving in the post, the deputy speaker post had been lying vacant for nearly nine months. The Opposition members cheered RSP MLA Kovoor Kunjumon, when his name was called to cast his vote, leaving the ruling bench members to squirm. The Opposition was apparently trying to create a wedge between the coalition partners in the UDF, reminding the staking of the claim for deputy speakership by the RSP, with Kunjumon as the party’s candidate. The RSP demand didn’t find favour with the Congress, as there were a few contenders within the latter’s fold, including K Muraleedharan. The RSP pulled out of the race, and so did Muraleedharan, as a decision on the UDF choice got dragged. In lieu of the RSP demand, the chairmanship of the Forward Castes Development Corporation was granted. Finally, the mantle of deputy speaker fell on Palode Ravi.
Not to be outsmarted by the Opposition, after Palode Ravi was declared elected, Kovoor Kunjumon walked up to him and wished him all success in his new endeavour. The UDF side greeted the courtesy with thumping in the desks.Soon after the election of the deputy speaker, N Sakthan greeted him and expressed confidence that Palode Ravi’s rich experience in the Assembly and as a member of the House chairman’s panel, he would be able to discharge his duties in a commendable manner. In a notable gesture, Sakthan also invited Ravi to chair the session immediately.
Anti-hartal Bill Referred to Select Committee
T’Puram: The Assembly on Wednesday referred the Kerala Regulation of Hartal Bill, 2015, to a select committee. Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala argued that it would be a historic decision to regulate hartal as calling hartal was an infringement on the freedom of citizens. The Home Minister said that section 2 of Article 19 had clearly stated that there should be reasonable restriction on exercising freedom of expression. He also said that there was no attempt on the part of the government to curtail the freedom of workers. There was also no intention to ban hartal, he said. However, the presentation of the Bill met with vehement criticism from the Opposition benches. E P Jayarajan and K Suresh Kurup (both CPM) and V S Sunil Kumar of the CPI moved objections in presenting the Bill. E P Jayarajan questioned the very logic of certain provisions like mandatory requirement of issuance of three days’ notice.
State to Oppose Move to Bring in Changes in Labour Laws
T’Puram: Raising concern over the Central Government’s move to bring in amendments to labour laws, the state government called upon the Opposition to put up a joint fight against such moves. The steps to be taken to tackle the move would be taken in consultation with various trade unions and the Opposition parties, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John told the Assembly on Wednesday. “If the Centre brings in changes in labour laws, the state cannot bring in an Act contradictory to the Central Act as it will only prevail. We have to collectively oppose such a move,’’ he said during question hour.
Aimed at bringing in all sectors under labour laws, Shibu Baby John said that the government was thinking of a new Bill named Assured Bill. “The government aims to bring in the Bill so that all the people get an assured wage. As of now teachers are not covered under the minimum wages. In the new Bill, we propose to cover all sectors,” he said.
WAGE PROTECTION SYSTEM
Noting that the government was aware of the exploitation of nurses and teachers in the private sector, he said that the Wage Protection System had been envisaged to ensure wage protection and end exploitation. ‘’As a pilot project, it is being implemented in Thiruvananthapuram district. Once the system is introduced across the state, we will be able to stop the exploitation,’’ he said. Shibu Baby John also mentioned that the payment of salary in private institutions would be made mandatory through bank accounts under the proposed Wage Protection System.
Now Get 2 Months’ Pension Every Month
T’Puram: In a bid to clear welfare pension arrears to the tune of `1,260 crore, the government would disburse two months’ pension amount every month to the beneficiaries, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly on Wednesday. Chandy was replying to a calling attention motion by V Sivankutty MLA of the CPM, who said that the beneficiaries of various welfare pensions had not been paid their dues for the past 10 months. He also said that the pensioners were facing hardship in collecting the amount from post offices.