THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Despite the sullen mood induced by the Aruvikkara bypoll debacle continuing and the hangover from the solar and bar slogans yet to go, the Opposition LDF proved in the Assembly on Thursday that it may be down but not out. The Left members took the government by its horns on the faux pas in the distribution of school textbooks and asserted that there was no excuse for it, while demanding a cut-off date to ensure when the books would reach the students.
Refusing to buy the government stand that there were no serious issues and corrective measures were also under way, an adamant Opposition was not ready for nothing short of a guarantee from anyone other than Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, leading to a stand-off and eventual adjournment of the rest of the day’s business.In a presentation which stood out for its class and concern, Mathew T Thomas (JD-S) aired the strong public sentiments over the issues in the education sector, including the imbroglio in textbooks printing and moves to conduct term examinations after Onam, on his notice for an adjournment motion.
Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb was also quite different from his usual dithering self and countered all allegations with poise. Underscoring that there was no inordinate delay as in the days of the former LDF govt, he tried to ward off criticism, but in vain. The minister was caught on the wrong foot when he was found evasive in supporting a statement of Minister K P Mohanan, in-charge of printing and stationery, on the date of the final order placed for printing school textbooks. Only a tentative order was given on October 28 last year and the final order was given only on February 10 this year, Mathew T Thomas said, quoting from the reply given by K P Mohanan to a starred question, and alleging that it was intended to help private printing houses by masterminding a delay.
The Opposition members were on their feet and trooped to the well of the House with slogan shouts demanding an immediate clarification, but Abdu Rabb maintained that it could be given only after checking the facts, since it was related to another department. He was also quick to see an Opposition plot and reminded that they needn’t try to create a divide between him and Mohanan.
The Opposition strategy to corner the government was clear as V S Achuthanandan announced that the LDF members were not walking out but would stage a sit-in on the floor of the House. The talks convened at the instance of the Speaker to break the deadlock proved futile, after Oommen Chandy remained firm that the Opposition would have to hear the Education Minister first.
Printing To Be Over By July 20
The printing of school textbooks would be completed by July 20, Education Minister P K Abdu Rabb told the Assembly on Thursday. Replying to a notice for adjournment motion over the delay in the printing of textbooks, Rabb said that Kerala Books and Publications Society (KBPS), which had been tasked with printing the remaining 43 lakh textbooks, had already completed the printing of 13 lakh copies. The printing of the remaining 30 lakh textbooks was in progress and it would be completed by July 20, he added. Rabb said that the distribution of free school uniform material to eligible students in aided schools would begin within the next two weeks.