References to Shakespeare and Mandrake comics were made during a heated discussion on the no-confidence motion moved against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government in Kerala by the Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).
The motion was moved by Congress MLA VD Satheeshan who repeatedly referred to CM Pinarayi Vijayan an “honourable man” while levelling a series of corruption allegations against the chief minister. The quote was a reference to Mark Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar during which he calls Brutus an honourable man while laying out his betrayal in assassinating Caesar.
“I would like to say that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is an honourable man. He is the captain of the ship. However the ship that he steers is out of control due to strong winds and hurricanes. He is not able to control the ship as the problem lies in the captain’s cabin,” Satheesan said, according to The NewsMinute, while moving the no-confidence motion.
“The CM is the captain of our ship. He is the helmsman of the State. But, he has given gold smugglers, anti-nationals and corrupt bureaucrats a free rein of the bridge,” Satheeshan said, The Hindu quoted.
IUML’s KM Shaji called the Pinarayi “senior Mandrake” and said the chief minister feared being questioned by the media. He also claimed the CM did not stop cyber bullies from his party from attacking others, Mathrubhumi reported.
According to the Press Trust of India, this is the first time in 15 years a no-confidence motion has been brought against the Kerala government. In 2005, then CPI(M) MLA Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had moved a motion alleging corruption against the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government.
The Kerala government has been facing severe criticism from the opposition regarding the gold smuggling case which involved diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. Congress and BJP allege accused in the case is linked with the Chief Minister’s Office.The state government had earlier suspended chief secretary Sivashankar, for his alleged links with Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the case.
“While the Chief Minister was attending the press conference and saying that everything was fine with the government and was ready to face any probe, his former principal secretary was being questioned by investigating agencies for hours,” Satheeshan said.
He said the ministers and the chief minister were trying to “put all the blame in the gold smuggling matter on the shoulders of suspended senior IAS officer and former IT Secretary M Sivashankar”.
Manorama reported that during the discussion, Satheeshan levelled two new charges against the state government. The Congress leader said Life Mission houses in Wadakkanchery were being constructed for about Rs 10 crore when the UAE had promised Rs 20 crore for the project, implying over Rs 9 crore had been given as bribe.
He also alleged that the state administration had let the Adani group win the bid for the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport by passing on “insider information” about the state’s bid for the contract.
The Kerala Assembly had earlier in the day passed a “unanimous resolution” demanding the withdrawal of Union Cabinet decision to lease out the international airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd.
CM Pinarayi said the Centre should re-examine its decision and the operation and management of the airport should be handed over to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which the state government has stake, Manorama reported.
Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan had allotted five hours for the discussion on the no-confidence motion.
In the 140-member assembly, LDF has 91 members while UDF has 45. The UDF is in a quagmire as the Jose K Mani faction of its ally Kerala Congress has decided to stay away from the motion owing to a factional feud. The Kerala Congress party has five members, three belonging to party chairman P J Joseph and two of Jose Mani faction. PC George, an independent member, has said he will vote for the motion. BJP has one member― O Rajagopal.
Adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, the Kerala Assembly convened for a day on Monday and passed the Finance Bill 2020-21.
(With PTI inputs)