Kerala opposition wants Thomas Isaac to resign, but does the 'Budget Leak' really matter?
Almost forty minutes after Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac started his presentation of the state’s budget, the Assembly witnessed some major drama. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala intervened alleging that the budget document was leaked. Nothing was smooth after that, a visibly upset Finance Minister lost the vigour with which he was reading out the document.
Young MLAs of the United Democratic Front, including V T Balram, Hibi Eden, K M Shaji and K S Sabarinathan promptly echoed Chennithala’s allegation. All of them stood up and went to the well of the house. Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan tried to pacify them and asked them to allow the budget presentation to resume. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan tried the same, all in vain. The result, an irate opposition boycotted the Assembly and the budget turned into a political spectacle.
The Opposition leader immediately held a press meet in which he read out the portions of the budget which he alleged were leaked. KPCC president V M Sudheeran demanded Isaac’s resignation.
Reacting to allegations, Thomas Isaac said, “It was the draft copy with budget highlights for media persons that was leaked. No important documents were leaked."
Manoj K Puthiyavila, the minister’s assistant private secretary who was in charge of media, was removed from the post.
Does the ‘leak’ matter?
“We can’t’ say it’s a big thing as alleged by the opposition. It’s normal for the media to telecast highlights simultaneously with the budget presentation. It might have also appeared on social media. We can say a budget is leaked only when tax proposals are made public in advance of the budget presentation. However, the government could have been careful to prevent the situation,” Dr Jose Sebastian of Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation told The News Minute.
Harilal M, an economist who is currently working on a project in Vienna said that Isaac had formed his policies through public debates and discussions, which might have given an indication of what would be his budget proposals.
Journalist Rajeev Devraj wrote on Facebook that only budget highlights had found its way to some reporters. He added that giving budget highlights to the media beforehand is a good step as it does away with the chances of misreporting.