Thiruvananthapuram | The budget session of the Kerala Assembly began on a stormy note today with the CPI(M) -led Opposition boycotting the governor’s address over its demand for the resignation of Finance Minister KM Mani in the bar bribery case. Led by leader VS Achuthanandan, opposition members, who had come to the Assembly bearing placards and banners, stood up and raised slogans against the government and Mani as soon as Governor Justice P Sathasivam began his speech.
Stating that they were protesting as the finance minister had not resigned despite the charges levelled against him, Achuthanandnan led the opposition as it staged a walk-out, raising slogans against the government and Mani. Amid the protest, the governor, however, continued with his address, detailing the achievements and new initiatives of the Congress-led UDF government as it enters its fifth year in office.
The governor claimed that development programmes taken up by the UDF government had made Kerala one of the fastest- growing states in the entire country. Stating that the ‘Kerala model of development’ was now attracting world attention, he said that ambitious development projects like Vizhinjam sea port, Kannur Airport, Kochi Metro and Smart City would be completed on a time-bound basis.
The grand vision of inclusive growth which the government has been following has brought economic growth with equity, he said. Detailing the welfare programmes initiated by the government, he said that higher secondary girl students would be given free textbooks under ‘Her Education is Our Responsibility’ project. As prevention of crimes against women was one of the priorities, ‘Nirbhaya Keralam Surakshitha Keralam’ programme for their protection would be implemented in two phases, he added.
Expressing reservation over the Centre’s insufficient allotment to the state under the Prime Minister’s rural road scheme, he said that under PMGSY phase two, we got only 570- km roads at an estimate of Rs 500 crore. This is quite insufficient. However, he welcomed the Centre’s move to introduce Goods and Services Tax (GST) and hoped there would not be any loss of revenue with its implementation.
The opposition members also staged a sit-in in front of the Assembly for some time. Addressing the members, Achuthanandan reiterated LDF’s position that they would not allow Mani to present the state budget, scheduled for March 13. The bar bribery case pertains to charges levelled by a hotel owner against Mani that he had taken a bribe for a favourable decision on bar hotels, which were closed as part of the government’s new liquor policy.
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