For the first time after irate LDF members desecrated the Speaker's podium on March 13, 2015, a day marked as 'Black Friday' in the annals of the Assembly, the Opposition UDF members stormed up the steps of the podium, asked the 'watch and ward' staff to keep out of their way, and stood right next to the Speaker shouting slogans against police violence.
Unlike in 2015, the UDF members evidently had no plans to confront the Speaker, or indulge in vandalism. There were just four of them. They stood at the side of the Speaker, faced the House, and shouted slogans from a piece of paper.
In response, the ruling party members rushed to front, shouting and gesturing furiously at the Opposition members to keep away from the Speaker. A slanging match soon broke out.
Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan who sat for some time with his gaze lowered, stood up and walked out without a word, leaving the House in suspension.
After about 45 minutes when the members had relaxed, the Speaker returned and termed the incident “unfortunate”. He named four young Congress MLAs – Roji M John, I C Balakrishnan, Eldose P Kunnappally and Anwar Sadat – and said they had violated all norms of decency. The Speaker, however, stopped short of sentencing them. He has still not ruled out punitive action, saying it was under consideration.
This did not deter the Opposition from gathering in the well of the House and resume their loud sloganeering. This time they did not clamber up the steps to the Speaker's podium. Instead, they had with them large framed pictures of Sreeramakrishnan himself taking part in the destruction on the day the LDF members ran riot over the House in 2015.
On March 13, 2015, opposition MLAs had gone on a rampage, vandalising the Legislature in their bid to prevent then finance minister K M Mani from presenting the budget. The total loss was pegged at Rs 2.21 lakh.
The destruction of the mike unit had caused the biggest loss, of Rs 1.46 lakh. The damage to the Speaker's chair which was thrown down by E P Jayarajan, now the industries minister, was estimated at Rs 20,000.
One of the UDF members held aloft such a picture when the Speaker admonished the members and called their act “unfortunate”. Right through his tenure as Speaker, the UDF had constantly reminded Sreeramakrishnan of his role in the vandalism in March 2015. “How can you teach us decorum,” he is repeatedly taunted by the UDF members. The Speaker rushed through the proceedings and wound up the day within 15 minutes.
Ironically, after the pandemonium in the Assembly today, Jayarajan warned UDF members that “people were watching”.
The Opposition rose up in protest on Wednesday after E P Jayarajan, who was standing in for the Chief Minister, refused to suspend police officials the Congress allege were responsible for the brutal attack on Shafi Parambil MLA and KSU activists on Tuesday.
“The attack on Shafi Parambil was unfortunate. The government has already ordered a probe into the incident by the additional chief secretary (home). Further action will be taken on the basis of this report,” Jayarajan said. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded that the probe be held only after assistant commissioner of police Suneesh Babu was suspended.
Congress MLA V T Balram, while moving an adjournment motion on police violence in the Assembly, had said the situation had worsened after the entry of the ACP. “The SI and the CI had managed to handle the issue in a very peaceful manner until the ACP arrived. He was the one who gave orders to thrash the students. He was aided by Police Association state president Prithviraj, the Cantonment CI,” Balram said.
Balram said Suneesh Babu had a long history of working for the CPM's interests. “He was the one who had earlier managed to get SFI workers off a case related to violence against KSU students in Law College,” Balram said.
He also alleged that Suneesh Babu's utterances during the police action was proof that there was a conspiracy to single out Shafi Parambil for attack. “Aren't you not satisfied even after your MLA got bashed up, he yelled at the students,” Balram said.