Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday lost his cool on the floor of the assembly and spoke sharply at senior Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who raised the issue of bickering between senior state bureaucrats.
The immediate provocation for Vijayan to lose his cool was when Sateeshan referred to his economic advisor Gita Gopinath's father who runs a farm from which the state-run Horticrop was procuring vegetables and was paying promptly, while he alleged, poor vegetable farmers in Idukki district were not getting paid on time.
Sateeshan sought leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the serious differences of opinion that have surfaced in the open among top bureaucrats and police officials.
"The whole of yesterday it was a 'live' battle between the principal secretary (agriculture) Raju Narayana Swamy and his junior Biju Prabakaran - agriculture director, with each accusing the other. The irony is that all this is happening on the eve of the first anniversary of your government. What's important is that the agriculture department headed by these two top officials handles around Rs 2,000 crore projects every year and they have been at war. Your advisor Gita Gopinath's father is only one supplier of vegetables here and he is getting paid, while other poor farmers in Idukki district are not getting paid," said Sateeshan.
After this statement, chaos erupted in the House. Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan expressed his displeasure, saying that the Congress leader is straying away from the main topic and raising unnecessary issues. This was strongly contested by the opposition benches, led by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
With the treasury benches also raising their voices, angry opposition legislators rushed towards the Speaker's chair.
Vijayan was up on his feet and accused the opposition of attempting to threaten the Speaker.
"This is not the way legislators should behave in the House, especially with the Speaker. The top leadership of the opposition should see that such things do not happen," said an angry Vijayan.
Chennithala intervened, saying that they know very well how to behave in the House.
"It's because you do not know in the past what all happened in the House. We have never behaved in an unruly manner. When an issue is raised in the House, to substantiate one's argument one has to buttress it with examples, and that's what Sateeshan was doing," pointed out Chennithala.
Speaker Sreeramakrishnan said it has now become a habit for everyone to rush before his chair.
"I only reminded Sateeshan to speak within the topic. What has happened is not good. I too have rights vested with me," added Sreeramakrishnan.
Sateeshan again started to speak, and said the state of matters is such that no government official is taking Vijayan seriously, and if they had done so then there would never have been so many issues between top officials.
He also remarked that all this "mayhem" is taking place "on the eve of your government celebrating a year in office".
Vijayan was sworn in on May 25 last year.
Replying to the insinuations, Vijayan said that it was surprising to hear Sateeshan speaking "baseless" things.
"May be because you do not have any real issues you are raising trivial issues. The government is going forward very smoothly and personal issues of top officials is an issue between themselves. Governance has not at all been affected and there is nothing rotten in the state secretariat," hit back Vijayan.
Before leading the entire opposition out of the house, Chennithala reminded Vijayan that as long as he remains the Chief Minister there will be no dearth of issues for them to speak on.
"This is the worst ever government that the state has seen. The conflict between top bureaucrats has been going on for the past four months and you feign ignorance that everything is fine," he said.