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Assembly session ends on stormy note

Assembly session ends on stormy note

Thiruvananthapuram: The final session of the 13th Assembly Wednesday ended on a stormy note with CPI-M-led LDF opposition members boycotting proceedings, demanding resignation of "tainted" and "corrupt ministers" in the Congress-led UDF government over solar and bar scams.

With Opposition members continuing their protest and raising slogans, the House passed a resolution suspending the sitting scheduled for tomorrow, moved by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who said "the decision was in view of difficulty in carrying on the proceedings due to Opposition protest."

LDF has been on the warpath since start of the session on February 5, demanding resignation of Chandy, Power Minister Arayadan Muhammed and Excise Minister K Babu.They had taken up various issues, attacked government and disrupted proceedings on every day of the sitting that lasted for 11 days.

Though the brief Budget session was scheduled for 14 days till Feb 25, the House did not meet for three days due to various reasons.

The session witnessed presentation of 2016-17 budget by Chandy, who took up the finance portfolio following resignation of former Finance Minister K M Mani over the bar scam.

The presentation assumed significance as it was after a 29 year gap that a CM was presenting it in the Assembly.

LDF members came to the house today carrying placards with slogans against the government and attacked it over an observation against Chandy by a Vigilance Court in the 23-year old palmolein graft case.

They raised slogans against Chandy since question hour and trooped to the Well of the House as Speaker N Sakthan denied permission to move an adjournment motion over the observation.

Yesterday, the Court while acquitting two top officials involved, had observed that Chandy, the then Finance Minister, was aware about the deal, which pertains to import of palmolein at an inflated price from Malaysia, causing a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the state exchequer.

Rejecting the charges, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the court had made just an observation and it could not be treated as a final verdict.

Raju Abraham of CPI(M), while seeking permission for the motion, said the palmolein case was one of the first scams witnessed by modern Kerala. Though the amount involved was not as big as in the bar and solar scams, it was also one of the biggest corruption cases the state had faced, he said, adding that Chandy should quit office, taking moral responsibility.

The House witnessed noisy scenes when Opposition members stood up and disrupted the speech of the Chief Minister.

Unfazed, Chandy continued his speech and said the case was politically motivated and opposition was trying to create a 'smokescreen' over the recent Vigilance Court observation.

He claimed the exchequer had not incurred losses over the deal and actually helped government gain Rs nine crore profit.

As the opposition did not go back to their seats, the Speaker hurriedly took up other business of the day, including Vote on Account for the next four months.

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