THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Protest raged inside and outside the assembly on Thursday seeking the resignation of General Education Minister V Sivankutty, who is set to face prosecution in a criminal case registered under the prevention of damage to public property act.
While Opposition UDF sought leave for adjournment to discuss the issue in the assembly, feeder organisations of Congress and BJP staged assembly and secretariat marches seeking Sivankutty’s resignation. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had ordered that the six accused in the assembly ruckus case of 2015 including Sivankutty and LDF MLA K T Jaleel need to face trial.
In line with the decision of CPM leadership, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan defended the minister and ruled out his resignation, prompting the UDF to boycott the assembly.
Defending the state government’s plea in the Supreme Court to withdraw prosecution proceedings against the LDF legislators accused in the case, Pinarayi said the court had not held anyone guilty or mentioned anyone’s name in its verdict.
The government’s attempt was to protect the privilege of legislators for their actions inside the assembly, he said. Sivankutty didn’t attend the session on Thursday.
Citing past incidents of violence in various state legislatures across the country, Pinarayi said the UDF had set a wrong precedent by registering a criminal case against six MLAs when it was in power. The speaker had already taken action against the MLAs by suspending them, he said, adding that withdrawal of cases in similar incidents has happened during the UDF tenure as well.
Tension as KSU, ABVP take out protest marches
Opposition leader V D Satheesan said a criminal offence committed in the assembly cannot be justified by citing MLA’s privileges. He said the chief minister’s stance that Sivankutty need not resign is against morality and sends out a wrong message. He also reminded the CM that discussing in the assembly a case that has been disposed by the SC goes against the spirit of the apex court verdict. Like every ordinary citizen, the Chief Minister too is bound to accept Supreme Court’s verdict, he added.
Earlier, Congress’ P T Thomas, who sought leave for the adjournment motion, reminded the fifth accused in the assembly ruckus case is now the state’s education minister. He urged Pinarayi to expel Sivankutty from the cabinet or else he will be seen as a bigger culprit by the people.
While the debate was going on inside the assembly, protesters turned heat on police near the assembly building. KSU, the student outfit of Congress, was the first to lead a protest march to the assembly demanding removal of Sivankutty as education minister. Mild tension prevailed after the police used water cannons to disperse the protestors led by organisation’s state president K M Abhijith. The protestors were arrested and removed from the place.
ABVP, the students’ arm of the BJP, held a protest march to the secretariat demanding Sivankutty’s ouster from the cabinet. The agitators were blocked by police from entering the secretariat campus. As the agitators refused to disperse, the police used water cannons and later forcefully moved away the leaders. The Opposition service unions conducted marches demanding removal of minister.