House rejects motion for Speaker’s removal

The Assembly on Thursday rejected a motion, after nearly four hours of heated debate, moved by the Opposition seeking the removal of Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan alleging his role in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case and reckless expenditure in the various activities by the Legislature Secretariat.

Moving the motion soon after the Question Hour, IUML legislator M. Ummer said the Speaker had denigrated his office and that the resolution was not for personal or political reasons or for casting aspersions against Mr. Sreeramakrishnan but to protect the dignity of the House.

“Serious allegations are cropping up against the Speaker every day. Already, his Assistant Private Secretary was questioned by the Customs for nine hours. It is said that the Speaker will be questioned by the Central investigating agencies after the ongoing Assembly session. Will dignity of the House and Chair go up if he is summoned?” Mr. Ummer asked.

The Speaker’s alleged personal connections with the gold smuggling accused and his participation in the inauguration of a workshop in the capital related to her had brought disgrace to the House, he said.

The IUML legislator alleged that various works such as the renovation of the lounge carried out in the Assembly complex recently and initiatives such as e-Niyamasabha, Sabha TV and Festival on Democracy were not transparent and involved wasteful expenditure.

Earlier, S. Sharma of the CPI(M) questioned the admissibility of the resolution citing precedence, rules and procedures as the allegations was solely based on media reports. After heated arguments between the Opposition and treasury benches, Deputy Speaker V. Sasi granted permission ruling that he was not looking into the technicalities. The resolution was supported by UDF legislators and lone BJP legislator O. Rajagopal.

Treasury benches defended the Speaker and listed the key initiatives under him.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the Speaker was never impartial and had indulged in extravagance in the initiatives launched under him. Listing out the money spent for various projects, Mr. Chennithala said it would be ideal for the Speaker to quit till he got a clean chit.

Intervening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the motion was politically-motivated and it will set a bad precedent in legislature history.

In his reply, the Speaker said his hands were clean and that he will not bow even an inch as he has done nothing wrong. “Other than media reports I have not got any calls or summons from anyone. I can’t run after media churning choicest stories”, he told the House.

Later, the House rejected the motion and the Opposition staged a noisy walkout. Mr. Rajgopal also joined them.

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