The Kerala Assembly session began on Monday with the Speaker allowing the no-confidence motion against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government, reported Onmanorama. The Opposition United Democratic Front moved the motion, raising concern over several matters including the gold smuggling case and corruption charges related to a housing project.
The debate on the no-confidence motion began in the Assembly at 10 am and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan allotted five hours to deliberate on it. Congress MLA VD Satheesan, who introduced the motion, quoted Mark Antony’s speech from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to highlight that Vijayan was the captain of the ship – or the state government – adding that the problem is within his cabin, The New Indian Express reported.
Satheesan said that the chief minister cannot shirk off the responsibilities when there are accusations related to his office’s involvement in the gold smuggling case. “The CMO’s office was hijacked by the gold smugglers,” said Satheeshan, according to The Week.
The Opposition had also pursued a motion calling for the Speaker’s removal, citing his “suspicious closeness” to one of the accused in the gold smuggling case. The Speaker dismissed this request.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala spoke about removing the Speaker after the no-confidence motion was allowed. He claimed that the Speaker was hiding behind the Assembly rules despite convening a session by violating them. The Speaker had rejected the motion, moved by Muslim League legislator MA Ummer, against him saying that it did not maintain the required time period of 14 days.
In the 140-strong Assembly, Left Democratic Front has 91 members, UDF has 45. A no-confidence motion has been introduced in the House after 15 years, according to Onmanorama.
The gold smuggling case
On July 5, gold weighing 30 kg concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by the Customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.
The customs department arrested Sarith PS, an accused, on the same day for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of the gold in a diplomatic baggage from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai. Sarith and another suspect, Swapna Suresh, worked at the consulate-general’s office until seven months ago. Later, the state government had appointed Suresh as marketing liaison officer of the Space Park project.
Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M Sivasankar was also removed after Opposition leaders questioned his alleged association with the three accused. On July 22, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering complaint in the case.