The Congress-led opposition in Kerala staged a walk out from the assembly today after over two hours into the discussion of a resolution introduced by it against Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan. The United Democratic Front (UDF), in a rare move, had demanded the Speaker's removal, raising the issue of his alleged close links to the accused in the case involving smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels and other allegations such as alleged lack of transparency.
The resolution, introduced by IUML MLA M Ummer, was rejected by the House.
The session saw strong exchanges of arguments between the UDF and the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), with even the Speaker countering the allegations.
The CPI(M)-led ruling front opposed the resolution, slamming it as politically motivated and without the backing of any evidence.
"The Speaker is bound to protect the dignity of the Assembly. But P Sreeramakrishnan has weakened and destroyed the dignity of Kerala Assembly. Has any Speaker in Kerala's history been linked to accused in any smuggling case? The Speaker's staff has been called for questioning", Leader of Opposition in Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, defending P Sreeramakrishnan, said, "The Opposition's resolution shows its bankruptcy. How can the statement of an accused who has been in jail for months be the basis of an allegation? It's a statement recorded under 164 by investigating agencies, months after the accused was arrested. Who has seen the statement? Why were these statements not made soon after the arrests?"
The resolution was also supported by the BJP's only legislator in the assembly, O Rajagopal.
Last to respond in the assembly was the speaker who refuted the allegations against him, stepping down from the Speaker's dais, and joining the legislators at the floor of the House right before the introduction of the resolution.
" A phone call was made to my official asking him to be present at Ernakulam Customs Office. This was just before the Assembly was set to start and he had responsibilities. This was not the right way to call him. That's why we refused. And we insisted protocols be followed. That is not to be seen as opposing any summons to him", Mr Sreeramakrishnan said.
"Opposition can be proud that they brought a resolution on the basis of hearsay...", the Speaker added, making reference to "imaginary inferences based on some media reports". He also countered other allegations raised against him, while detailing the initiative undertaken by him.