Kerala: Oppn stages sit-in on ISRO land deal

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 12: The Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala today boycotted the Assembly proceedings and staged a sit-in at the foyer of the House demanding an inquiry into the ISRO land deal at Ponmudi, near here, and the resignation of Forests Minister Binoy Viswam.

The Opposition's protest came after Speaker K Radhakrishnan denied permission for a discussion on Chief Minister V S Achutanandan's statement on the ISRO deal that neither the Left Democratic Front government nor its ministers had any role in the deal and it was directly struck between the ISRO and the estate owner.

Even after knowing this, the opposition was raising the issue only for ''political gains'', the Chief Minister alleged, adding that all ''illegal transactions'' had taken place after the 2003 Act brought in by the previous UDF government regarding forest land.

Soon after Mr Achuthanandan made the statement, the Opposition members were on their feet, demanding a discussion on the statement under Rule 300. The Speaker, however, said any such discussion could be taken up only after talks with the government.

Meanwhile, the Opposition members, raising slogans trooped to the well of the House, disrupting the business, following which the House was adjourned for two hours.

The Speaker then held discussions with the Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy. When the House reassembled, the Speaker said the government was not against any discussion on the issue, but it could be done according to proper procedures.

Expressing regret over the Opposition's behaviour in the House, he said certain members were liable for action for misconduct.

However, no names were taken, Mr Radakrishnan hoped that such things did not recur.

However, Mr Chandy said they were boycotting the Assembly proceedings and staging a sit-in in the foyer of the House as the government had denied a discussion on the statement. ''We demand the resignation of the Forest Minister and an inquiry into the land deal. The agitation would go on till these demands are agreed to,'' he said.

After the Opposition boycott, Mr Achutanandan said, ''the Opposition indulged in such activities as they are now aware of the real culprits after his statement. They are just trying to hide their frustration.''

UNI

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