Did speaker bow to Kerala CM's diktat? Sreeramakrishnan says no

Did speaker bow to Kerala CM's diktat? Sreeramakrishnan says no
A row erupted after a paper was passed from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan.

No one knows what was in the small piece of off-white paper that was passed from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's hands to Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan's. But a couple of minutes after he received it, the speaker spoke of cutting short the proceedings. He said it three more times, and when the opposition showed no signs of responding to his threat, he abruptly cancelled the Question Hour, Zero Hour, and rushed through the other proceedings.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the chief minister ordered the speaker to end the proceedings. However, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan told Onmanorama that the chief minister's note wanted the opposite to happen. “In fact, the chief minister did not want the proceedings of the day disrupted,” the Speaker said. “It is quite usual for the chief minister and the opposition leader to pass notes to the speaker. They give their opinion on certain matters. It is not extraordinary. And chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has never interfered in my domain. It is foolish to surmise that he will never do anything that will undermine the authority of the chair,” the speaker said.

Chennithala is not convinced. “We saw a note going from the chief minister to the speaker. The proceedings were cut short after that,” Chennithala said. “We don't know what was written on the note but it was clear that the chief minister did not want the session to go on. We had given notice for an adjournment motion on the issue of minister K T Jaleel's nepotism. This is an issue on which the chief minister had not yet responded,” the opposition leader said.

This is just a momentary gain for the chief minister, Chennithala said. “We will raise the Jaleel issue again in the assembly,” he said. Muslim League leader Dr M K Muneer termed as 'unprecedented' a chief minister asking a speaker to call off proceedings.

Many observers also say that it was strange that the speaker did not even attempt to thrash out an understanding. On the first day of this session, for instance, there were unruly scenes during the Question Hour. Instead of calling off the day, the Speaker suspended the House temporarily and reconvened the session after holding talks with the opposition.

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