Thiruvananthapuram: The leak of budget speech of finance minister T.M.Thomas Isaac for 2017-18 has left the government and the CPM in a deep shock.
What was construed as a catalyst for the government has turned out to be a weapon for the Opposition United Democratic Front.
The leak of information before the completion of the speech is being seen as a lack of caution. But the party does not hold Isaac responsible for the lapse.
The CPM state secretariat has decided to defend the minister against the opposition move to put him on the dock.
The finance minister and the CPM had considered the budget as a vital document to brave the criticism against the government.
With the presentation of the budget, the government was aiming to give a fresh start to its activities for the future. But the leak turned out to be a dampener and it also became a weapon for the opposition to project as a proof of the ineptness of the government.
This embarrassment reflected in the discussions at the CPM secretariat meeting. Isaac was not present at the meeting. The minister’s assistant private secretary, who was holding the post of the liaison officer, was removed as part of the party decision to take remedial measures.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are unhappy over the developments. They strongly feel that there was serious laxity or negligence at the finance minister’s office that has smeared the image of the government.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is reported to have expressed his displeasure to Isaac over the incident. The CPM does not deem it as a legal issue. A legal issue will crop up only in the event of a leak in the budget documents.
According to Law and Parliamentary Affairs minister A.K.Balan, there was only an impropriety in the early release of the budget highlights prepared for media persons.
No document related to the budget has leaked and hence there was no legal or parliamentary lapse. Even the highlights were released only after the since the minister started reading out the speech, he says.
As far as the Assembly is concerned, the leak of a document that is deemed to be secret before presenting it the floor of the House, is a breach of its privilege.
Moreover, the document has leaked out from the government system itself and that adds to the gravity of the incident. The issue cannot be treated as closed by making a staff at the minister’s office a scapegoat.
When the Opposition sought the intervention of governor P.Sathasivam saying that the onus for maintaining the sanctity of the budget was with the minister and the Government, the governor said that he would contact the chief minister.
Isaac also appeared to be deeply worried over the fact that the grace of his efforts were spoiled by the members of his own office.