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Thiruvananthapuram, July 28 : TV channels in Kerala on Wednesday are airing the unruly and unbecoming behaviour of State Education Minister V. Sivankutty in the state assembly a few years back, when he is seen with his folded dhoti walking on the tables on the floor of the Kerala Legislative Assembly.
The reason why the TV channels have been showing these visuals is because the Supreme Court on Wednesday, dismissed the plea of the Kerala government to withdraw the cases against the CPI-M leaders, for vandalism in the state Assembly in 2015, as they were on a protest saying that they will not allow the state budget to be presented by a ‘corrupt’ then Finance Minister K.M. Mani.
The Congress-led opposition immediately after the verdict demanded his resignation, but the CPI-M had already decided that Sivankutty need not resign and he can face the trial, as this is not a corruption case.
Further to this, the top brass of the ruling CPI-M, which met at the state party headquarters concluded that in the verdict there was no mention of Sivankutty or the present post that he holds and hence there was no need for him to resign.
But reacting to the SC judgment, Sivankutty, who is recuperating at his house from fever, said he accepts the apex court’s verdict and ruled out his resignation.
“The court has only looked into the petition of the Kerala government to withdraw the petition and it has not happened. We will abide by the apex court verdict and will face the trial in the lower court and prove our innocence,” said Sivankutty.
Speaking to the media, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, flanked by other leaders of the opposition, said Sivankutty has to quit at the earliest in the wake of the verdict of the apex court.
“It’s highly unethical and immoral for a State Minister to sit in the chair of the Minister when he has been asked to face trial in a ‘criminal’ case. The apex court has made very grave observations in this case and it’s quite natural that any criminal act done inside or outside the Assembly is a criminal offence and there is no privilege for it. Sivankutty has to resign immediately,” said Satheesan.
A media critic on condition of anonymity said the CPI-M always has a set of different rules in cases like these.
“If this verdict was handed out to a Congress led UDF Minister, all hell would have broken loose and their students and youth activists would have been out on the streets and would have haunted the Minister. It seems all things like ethical conduct and moral issues are applicable to others, but not to them and they will go to any extent to defend their case. Just see what was the response of Jose K. Mani, just imagine if his party was in the Opposition, he would have been the first person to demand the resignation and today he never spoke a word against,” said the critic and asked one fails to understand what sort of role model is Sivankutty for a student.
Hours after the verdict, Sivankutty was seen announcing the results of the Class 12 students who pursued the State Education syllabus.
Meanwhile, State Congress president K. Sudhakaran demanded Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to oust Sivankutty to save the face of parliamentary democracy.
“The CPI-M’s argument that it has happened inside the assembly and it’s not a criminal act, was thrown into the dustbin by the apex court. When Sivankutty announces the results of Class 12 on Wednesday, students will hang their head in shame. The reason why this revolt took place in the floor of the assembly was because the CPI-M then said Mani is a corrupt person and see where Mani’s party is now – they have been made an ally of the Left. Such is the rationale of the CPI-M and this shows how much this party has fallen,” said Sudhakaran, who added that Vijayan should ask Sivankutty to quit, if not they will continue protest till he quits.
Earlier the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvananthapuram and the Kerala High Court had rejected the withdrawal application. As a result, the Kerala government moved the top court and failed to get a verdict in its favour.
The vandalism took place on March 13, 2015 when erstwhile State Finance Minister K.M. Mani was presenting the state Budget for the new fiscal.
The then CPI-M-led opposition had taken a strong stand that Mani, who was accused of taking a bribe of Rs one crore from a bar owner for reopening closed bars, would not be allowed to present the Budget.
When Mani began his speech, the Left legislators went berserk, throwing out the Speaker’s chair from the dais and also damaging the electronic equipment on his table.
The list of the other accused includes former State Minister E.P. Jayarajan.
The others include K. Kunju Ahamed, C.K. Sadasivan and K. Ajith, who are now no longer legislators, while K.T. Jaleel, the former Higher Education Minister is a legislator now.
Since 2020, the late K.M. Mani’s party- Kerala Congress (M), now led by his son Jose K. Mani moved out from the Congress-led UDF and is presently the third biggest ally of the Vijayan government and has been given a cabinet berth.
And when asked about the verdict, Jose was beating around the bush and said now that the court has asked for trial, let it take place.
Meanwhile, the Congress party has announced protests across the state seeking the resignation of Sivankutty and it will take place on Thursday and Friday and the issue will now surface in a big way in the ongoing assembly session also.
IANS / AGENCY