Chief Minister's Near 4-Hour Reply; Kerala Government Clears Floor Test

The session, which began at 9 AM, dealt with other House business initially, and ended at around 9 PM, with Chief Minister's scathing criticism of the Congress and it's ally Muslim league.

Chief Minister's Near 4-Hour Reply; Kerala Government Clears Floor Test

The Speaker warned the opposition MLAs to maintain social distancing.

Kochi:

A no-confidence motion moved by the opposition UDF in Kerala against the four-year-old Left-led government was defeated on Monday with 87 MLAs voting against it and 40 voting in favour.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's response to the motion, which was based on allegations of corruption including the gold smuggling case, lasted for around three hours and 40 minutes.

The sitting began at 9 AM and ended at around 9 PM, with the Chief Minister's scathing criticism of the opposition Congress and its ally Muslim league.

Three hours into Pinarayi Vijayan's speech, opposition MLAs began leaving their chairs, raising anti-corruption slogans. "I am responding. Why can't you listen?" the Chief Minister was heard asking.

The Speaker, P Sreeramakrishnan, warned the opposition MLAs to maintain social distancing - part of COVID-19 protocol - and said: "Earlier you were protesting saying he is giving long response. Now you are claiming he is not responding to your questions?"

Opposition UDF MLA VD Satheesan, moving the no-confidence motion, referenced William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, in which Brutus (one of Caesar's assassins) is called "an honourable man."

"The Chief Minister is an honourable man. Captain of the ship. But he isn't able to control the ship - because the primary problem is in the Cabinet. Earlier, when I cautioned him, I never knew the headquarters of this smuggling case will be the Chief Minister's office," VD Satheesan claimed before the House.

The MLA, and others in the Opposition, raised various accusations, including the alleged role of people within the Chief Minister's Office in the gold smuggling case and claims of Rs 9 crore being "siphoned off as bribes and commissions" from a government project that aims to build houses for the poor.

IAS officer M Sivasankar was removed as principal secretary in the Chief Minister's Office and suspended from service over alleged links with the accused in a case involving smuggling of gold in diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

"Ministers say they know nothing. You want us to believe this?" VD Satheesan asked while raising allegations.

Mr Vijayan told the assembly his government would not shield anyone linked to the gold smuggling case.

"Has any probe agency mentioned Chief Minister or his office before the court? Has anyone from the government been arrested?" Mr Vijayan asked the House, saying the state government would provide all necessary help to the central agencies investigating the case.

The Chief Minister also accused sections of the media of spreading propaganda against the ruling Left.

Attacking the Congress, Mr Vijayan said the party had acted as the "team B" of the BJP on several occasions and was "responsible for the toppling of secular and elected governments at the centre because of its hunger for power".