Kerala assembly session likely to be stormy

February 18th, 2008 - 5:42 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of ISRO

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (IANS) The Kerala assembly’s budget session beginning Wednesday is likely to be stormy with the Congress-led opposition set to raise questions on an alleged land scam and price rise. The opposition has called for a statewide shutdown Tuesday, on the eve of the session, to protest the “callous attitude” of the V.S. Achuthanandan government towards the “genuine needs” of the people.

The shutdown is to protest the price rise in the state, which Achuthanandan has attributed to the “policies of the central government”.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala said the party would give a fitting reply to those who feel the opposition was a docile one.

An issue likely to be raised is the controversial land deal surrounding the Rs.40 billion ($1 billion) Cyber City project in Kochi.

It pertains to the sale of 70 acres by public sector undertaking Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) to Mumbai-based Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) to build the Cyber City.

The opposition Congress party alleges a scam in the sale because land was given free of cost by the state government to HMT.

“People of Kerala want answers to issues like HMT and how we react depends on how the Achuthanandan government gives us answers,” leader of opposition Oommen Chandy told IANS.

The previous session held last year had ended on a tumultuous note with opposition members sitting on fast in the foyer of the house over a contentious land deal for an institute to be set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Apart from the HMT land scam, the opposition may also rake up the factionalism within the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). They are likely to question the fracas that erupted at the end of the recently held CPI-M state conference at Kottayam when supporters of party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s faction beat up Achuthanandan’s supporters.

A boon for the opposition this time would be the presence of Kerala Congress (Secular) chief P.C. George who has parted ways from the treasury benches. Over the years, George has been a pain for successive governments as he raises several issues apparently after doing a lot of homework on them.

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