Thiruvananthapuram: CPI(M) led LDF opposition disrupted proceedings in the Kerala Assembly in protest against alleged delay in distributing textbooks in government schools, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day ahead of the schedule.
The trouble began during zero hour when the Opposition sought to move an adjournment motion over the education department's 'inefficiency' in not supplying the textbooks even a month after the schools reopened.
LDF also cornered the government over alleged differences between Education Minister Abdu Rabb and minister in charge of printing K P Mohanan in finalising the order of printing of textbooks to state-run Kerala Books and Publishing Society.
Replying to the notice, Rabb assured the House that the textbooks would be distributed to students by July 20. He also explained the circumstances that led to delay in completing the printing of books before June 1, when schools reopened.
"We tried to use quality papers for printing this year to make them more attractive. But scarcity of quality papers delayed the printing. Besides, syllabus revision of certain standards this academic year also caused the delay," he said.
He also denied the charge that printing was purposefully delayed to hand over the contract to the private sector.
LDF slammed the government, saying it has put the future of 50 lakh students in jeopardy by not distributing textbooks on time.
JD(S) leader Mathew T Thomas, who moved the notice, said government had tried to award the printing contract to a private press overlooking KBPS.
"It is a clear case of deriliction of duty on the part of education and printing departments as everbody knows that schools in Kerala reopen on June 1 after summer vacation and textbooks have to be distributed by that time," he said.
He also alleged that the education department had failed to improve infrastructure of schools and distribute free uniforms.
The minister, however, maintained that there was no serious situation in the department that warranted a debate.
Unsatisfied, the opposition members trooped to the well of the House and raised slogans.
They continued to protest sitting on the well, though Speaker N Sakthan asked them to return to their seats.
When the protest continued, the Speaker suspended the proceedings for around half and hour.
Though he called a meeting of party leaders to end the stalemate, they failed to arrive at a consensus.
Before announcing the LDF sit-in protest, Opposition leader V S Achutanandan said the government had so far distributed only around one crore textbooks in place of five crore.
The Speaker rushed through other business in the agenda, including voting on demands for grants in the budget for the year 2015-16 for exercise, fisheries, ports, food and stamps and registration and adjourned the House.