Mani issue rocks assembly; LDF walkout twice

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014,21:36 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala assembly today witnessed noisy scenes and walkout over the alleged corruption charges against Finance Minister K M Mani as CPI-M led LDF opposition continued their protest demanding his resignation. LDF also levelled fresh allegation that the Finance Minister had taken graft from quarry, petrol pump, gold jewellery shop and bakery owners.
The allegation was raised by V Sivankutty (CPI-M) during debate on the Finance Bill after giving in writing the charges and also produced certain documents claiming to support the allegation.
The LDF members moved to the well of the assembly and tore copies of Finance Bill and boycotted the House at the fag end of the day’s proceedings of passing the Bill for the year 2014-2015.
Amidst opposition protest, Mani, Kerala Congress(M) supremo, denied the charges. The LDF was saying lies, he said.
Intervening on the matter, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it was a darkest day in the history of Kerala assembly as the opposition boycotted the House without waiting to hear the reply of Mani.
Earlier in the day, LDF members had staged walkout twice over the bar bribery issue even as Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala rejected the charges that an attempt was on to scuttle the probe against Mani.
As part of their protest, LDF members had come to House with their mouths covered with black cloth during question hour.
Chennithala said the probe had been entrusted with the Special Investigation Unit of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau and refuted the charge that government planned to remove Vigilance Director Vincent M Paul from the post.
Chennithala also said the UDF’s yesterday’s decision to make practical changes in the new liquor policy was in view of some issues that had cropped up at the implementation stage.
The concerns of the tourism sector, problems of workers who lost their jobs due to closure of bars and court observations were the main things that would be considered to make changes, he said.
Chennithala also asserted that the government would not alter the fundamentals of the policy, which has clearly stated the implementation of total prohibition in the state in 10 years. The start of zero hour witnessed noisy scenes when the opposition insisted on taking up the issue as an adjournment motion, which was rejected by Deputy Speaker N Sakthan. LDF which agreed to the request to take up the matter as first submission, staged a walkout in protest over the issue not being taken up as an adjournment motion. Mathew T Thomas (JDS), who moved the submission, came down heavily on the government and said developments after the case was registered on December 11 clearly showed that steps were on to save Mani. Before staging a walkout for the second time, opposition leader V S Achuthanandan alleged that UDF’s decision to bring about changes in the liquor policy was to help liquor barons.