The Kerala Assembly was adjourned for the fourth consecutive day on Monday after Congress-led opposition demanding a discussion on Sabarimala disrupted the proceedings. Amid noisy trading of charges between the treasury and Opposition benches, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan adjourned the House for the day, barely twenty minutes after it was assembled.
The Opposition legislators have been demanding a discussion on Sabarimala, suspending all other business of the Assembly, but the CPI (M)-led government remains unrelenting.
As soon as the House met in the morning, the Opposition members — some carrying banners and posters — raised the demand and urged the Speaker to cancel the Question Hour to discuss the Sabarimala issue. Expressing disapproval, the Speaker asked the lawmakers to maintain decorum and allow the House to function.
Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said three lawmakers of the Opposition are also on a sit-in protest at the entrance of the Assembly building, accusing the government of handling of the Sabarimala issue in an ‘insensitive’ manner.
At this point Chief Minister Pinaryai Vijayan said the Congress was displaying nothing but political opportunism by teaming up with the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS against the government, referring to the protest the BJP is organising in the state capital today. The Congress in Kerala is following the BJP President Amit Shah and not its own chief Rahul Gandhi, Mr Vijayan said.
Protesting against these remarks, some Opposition members, carrying banners, rushed to the well of the House. The Speaker kept reminding the members that it was not in the interest of people to disrupt assembly proceeding every day.
Responding to the charges, Mr Chennithala said the Opposition members do not need the Chief Minister’s permission to decide when to launch their agitation.
Mr Chennithala later told reporters the Chief Minister had allegedly passed on an instruction to the Speaker to stop the proceedings of the Assembly to prevent the Opposition from raising the issue of a Minister flouting norms to make a crucial appointment in his department.
Both Congress and BJP, which has a lone member in the House, have been accusing the state government of being insensitive to the sentiments of the Sabarimala devotees. They also say the state government used disproportionate force “against the devotees” who are protesting against the Supreme Court order in September lifting a ban on the women of menstruating age offering prayers at the temple.
The government says it is duty-bound to implement the order and the police action is directed against the trouble-makers who are inconveniencing the genuine devotees.