The Kerala Assembly on Wednesday saw some lighter moments when Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was compared to Ukridge, a fictional character from a PG Wodehouse novel.
In a departure from the usual cat calls, Isaac was compared to Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, a schemer, who will do anything to increase his capital.
Senior Congress legislator VD Sateeshan while moving a leave for adjournment motion to discuss the financial position of the state said Isaac was just like Ukridge, and blamed him for mishandling the state's finances.
"It's true that Isaac is an economist. But he is a master when it comes to beating around the bush and is like the character of Ukridge, who has fancy ideas and creates his own business models, that do not reach anywhere," said Sateeshan.
The Congress member's statement was greeted with thumping of desks from the opposition benches and laughter all around.
Sateeshan pointed out that the need of the hour is for a white paper on the state's finances as things have reached such a position that the social welfare pension has fallen into arrears.
"When GST was being implemented, you were the biggest supporter of it and promised that once done, the woes of Kerala will be addressed.
"You even went to the extent of contradicting your (CPI (M)) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury's views on GST.
"And now when it has fallen flat, you say, all the things in GST were done, before you became a part of it.
"You also claimed revenues would increase 25 per cent on account of the stringent norms that you have put in place. Now we see that the state revenues have not been able to have even a normal growth," said Sateeshan.
Isaac, an economics professor-turned-Minister said for the past three months there was a ban on treasury payments, but that has been lifted and "things were now perfect".
"This fiscal until now as compared to the previous period, there has been a good increase in the spending on plan and non-plan expenditure.
"We have been able to increase the number of pensioners who now get social welfare pensions. It has gone up from 34 lakhs when your (UDF) government was in power to 42 lakhs since we came to power (in 2016), Isaac said.
"Another issue that surfaced was the gap between the revenue and expenditure has widened like never before. But now with a new budget all set to be unveiled (February 2), we are expecting that most of the issues will be resolved," said Isaac.
Dissatisfied with Isaac's reply, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said that there remains total confusion with regard to GST by Isaac.
"At times he (Issac) says GST is good and at times he says it has failed. Even as the state is passing through tough financial exigencies, the state government is on an unnecessary spending spree which will leave the state in a very bad position.
"The handling of the finances has been an abject failure," said Chennithala and walked out of the House to protest the disallowing of the debate by Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.