The cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday decided to suspend the special one day sitting of the Kerala Legislative Assembly scheduled for July 27.
The one day special session was called to pass the Finance Bill as, according to rules, it has to be passed latest by July 29.
Following the suspension of the announced one-day session, the cabinet decided to pass an Ordinance to effect the passing of the Bill.
One reason being given for the decision is the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state. As around 47 Legislators, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress veteran Oommen Chandy and also a few other cabinet ministers, are above 65 years of age, it was not found to be advisable to convene the Assembly.
However, the opposition sees a political reason behind the move. The Congress led opposition has served two notices -- a no-confidence motion against the Vijayan government and another seeking the removal of Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.
Both these notices are linked to the controversial gold smuggling case, in which three persons, including Swapna Suresh, who was a contract staff under the IT department, have been arrested.
Calling the move to cancel the Assembly session autocratic, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chairman Mullappally Ramachandran said that CM Pinarayi took the decision fearing that ‘truth’ will be exposed.
“He fears that the opposition will reveal scams pertaining to the gold smuggling case, Chief Minister’s foreign tours and consultancy contracts. In all these controversies, CM is the villain. Rather than anyone else, he knows well that he will be subjected to a trial in the assembly and so has run away,” said Mullappally.
He also asked for how long the CM can escape from questions. "A key feature of democracy is an open discussion and freedom to form opinions. The Chief Minister thinks he can mute all opposing voices," he said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala too condemned the government’s decision. “The decision was taken based on political interest. The opposition will not budge from its demand asking the Chief Minister to resign. He has lost the moral ground to continue in the post. Even if they postponed the session now, in September, the assembly session will have to commence. We will continue to protest against the corrupt government both inside and outside the assembly,” said Chennithala.
Slamming the state government’s move, senior Congress Legislator KC Joseph said, “They are wary of the various news reports that have linked the gold smuggling gang with the CM’s office. They know that even their allies will find it difficult to defend them on the floor of the Assembly, and hence resort to this under the guise of COVID-19," said Joseph.
Meanwhile reacting to the Opposition’s criticism, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the session was suspended due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation and not due to the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition.
“The COVID-19 situation has worsened with over 1,000 cases being reported per day. It is important for the government to take care of people’s health. The assembly hall is a large, closed room with air conditioning. If anyone has contracted the virus, it will pose a major problem. Government doesn't have any problem in facing the no-confidence motion.”
(With TNM inputs)