Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Assembly complex witnessed unprecedented scenes on Wednesday when a section of opposition UDF legislators who marched to the office of Speaker A N Shamseer, accusing him of being biased in the House, got into a scuffle with house marshals.
At least four Opposition MLAs and seven watch-and-ward staff who were injured in the exchange have sought treatment at various hospitals here, sources said.
The watch-and-ward staff, also known as house marshals, oversee the security of the State Assembly and work under the control of the Speaker and the Secretary to the Legislature.
All hell broke loose in the Assembly complex on Wednesday morning after the Opposition staged a walkout and marched to Shamseer’s office, raising slogans and holding a banner in their hands saying, ‘Speaker should show justice’. It was triggered by the Speaker’s denial of the opposition’s notice for an adjournment motion in the House on women’s security.
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Things became tense in the Assembly complex as the watch-and-ward staff tried to remove the opposition MLAs by force from the premises of the Speaker’s office, and the latter resisted firmly.
When heated arguments ensued and a scuffle broke out between the legislators and the security personnel, Chalakudy MLA T J Saneesh Kumar Joseph developed some uneasiness and was shifted soon to the medical room. Kumar has since been admitted to the Medical College Hospital here, the office of the Leader of the Opposition said.
The Congress-led UDF alleged that besides the watch-and-ward personnel, some ruling party legislators and the personal staff of some ministers had also assaulted the Opposition MLAs.
Senior legislator and former home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan was pushed, and MLA K K Rema’s hand was twisted as she was dragged on the floor by four-five women marshals, they alleged.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan told reporters in the media room that four of their MLAs — Rema, A K M Ashraf, T V Ibrahim and Saneesh Kumar — suffered injuries.
Sources in the Speaker’s office said seven watch-and-ward personnel, including five women, were injured as well. They have been admitted to the General Hospital here.
Hitting out at the Speaker, Satheesan alleged that the democratic rights of the Opposition to raise issues affecting the people of the state are continuously being denied in the House.
”We tried to present the issue of the recent brutal assault faced by a minor girl as an adjournment motion, but its notice was denied by the Speaker without any valid reason,” he said.
Satheesan claimed that the Speaker was being pressured by the Chief Minister to curtail the rights of the Opposition. He also alleged that Pinarayi Vijayan was scared of questions and wanted to wind up the ongoing session at any cost to avoid the issue.
Claiming that the Chief Minister was an admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the LoP said Vijayan was trying to imitate what Modi was doing to MPs in Parliament.
Taking aim at Vijayan and his son-in-law and PWD Minister P A Mohammed Riyas, Satheesan alleged that what was happening now was the implementation of a ”family agenda” by the duo to portray Speaker Shamseer in poor light.
He mocked Riyas, saying that his entry into the Cabinet was through the ”management quota”.
Satheesan also demanded immediate action against ruling CPI (M) MLAs Sachin Dev and H Salam and the deputy chief marshal who were accused of assaulting the Opposition legislators.
Strongly condemning the incident, senior Congress leader and MLA Ramesh Chennithala demanded a fair investigation into the alleged assault of UDF MLAs by the watch-and-ward staff in the Assembly complex. The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), under the aegis of its block committees, organised state-wide protest marches as well.
In turn, ministers P Rajeeve and Mohammed Riyas launched a scathing attack on the Congress-led UDF and Satheesan. ”Laying siege to the Speaker’s office was an unprecedented action in the history of the Kerala Assembly,” Rajeeve, who holds the Law portfolio, told reporters.
He alleged that the Opposition had nothing more to say about the Brahmapuram fire and had therefore tried to bring the whole House to a standstill. ”They are frustrated that they have power neither at the Centre nor in the state,” he said.
Infuriated by Satheesan’s ”management quota” remark, Riyas called him an ”egoistic person” and said he did not need any good certificate from the Congress leader.
Claiming that the Opposition had created a ruckus in the Assembly as part of a planned agenda, Riyas alleged that there was a secret understanding between Satheesan and the BJP-RSS at the Centre.