Dishonouring democracy

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Dishonouring democracy

Saturday, 18 March 2023 | Kumar Chellappan

Dishonouring democracy

Unprecedented rioting was witnessed in the Kerala Legislative Assembly. Why can’t our politicians be more civilised?

The incidents that took place in Kerala Legislative Assembly on Wednesday could not be described as just unfortunate. A new term has to be coined, to sum up, the happenings staged inside and outside the House, which sensible political parties address as the temple of democracy. The ‘riot’ between the ruling and opposition party members ended with K K Rema of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (a rival of the CPI-M) getting her hand fractured necessitating plastering. Veteran Congress member and former minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, a widely respected lawmaker was bashed up allegedly by the CPI-M members while another Congress MLA Saneesh Joseph had to be admitted to General Hospital following cardiac failure. Leader of the Opposition VD Sateeshan said that the Kerala Legislative Assembly was akin to Kaurava Sabha presided over by Duryodhana and his brothers.

It all began when Speaker AN Shamseer, a hardcore CPI-M member, denied permission to Uma Thomas of the Congress who demanded the House to discuss the molestation of a young girl in the capital city. Shamseer’s reaction that it was nothing worth discussing angered the opposition which had alleged that rapes, murders and mayhem were on a northward journey in the State. The law and order situation in the State has sent alarm signals across the civil society of Kerala and the Speaker’s comments scoffing at the subject upset the legislators.

The Opposition party MLAs staged a demonstration inside the House and the Speaker withdrew to his office. The lawmakers held a sit-in at the entrance to the Speaker’s office and the Watch and Ward staff reportedly assaulted them in their bid to bring back normalcy.

The Kerala Legislative Assembly’s reputation has been tarnished by the acts of the CPI-M MLAs who in 2015 unleashed a massive riot inside the House which was seen ‘live’ by people across the State. The then Opposition LDF had tried to prevent the then finance minister K M Mani from presenting the budget as the minister’s name figured in the liquor contract pay-off scandal. Having failed in their efforts not to make Mani present the budget, the CPI-M MLAs led by E P Jayarajan and Sivan Kutty went on a spree of the destruction of public property inside the House. Even as the proceedings were being telecast, these MLAs were seen demolishing and destroying the desktop, TV screen and furniture inside the House. The then Oommen Chandi government had filed a police complaint against the members who were caught on camera vandalizing the House. Now the same MLAs with the support of the LDF Government are running from pillar to post to get their names cleared from the charges.

The Marxists leaders assaulted the party’s dissident leader MV Raghavan in full public view for his ‘audacity’ to challenge the party line. Interestingly, Kerala is the only State in the country where the Marxists do not have open ties with Congress in their fight against Hindutwa politics. The CPI-M is well known for its distinct style of democracy which they term “people’s democracy’. We cannot expect anything different from present day politicians. The Marxists claim that the Brahmapuram inferno in Kochi that lasted for two weeks sending poisonous and toxic gas across the metropolis was a blessing in disguise to get rid of the plastic waste! God save Kerala!!

(The writer is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal)

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