Medical College row: UDF boycotts Kerala Assembly
Thiruvananthapuram: Expressing solidarity with its MLAs who are on hunger strike for the last six days over the issue of fees hike in private medical colleges in the state, Congress-led UDF Opposition boycotted the proceedings in the Kerala Assembly.
A discussion convened by speaker P Sreeramakrishnan to end the stalemate over the issue failed to arrive at a consensus with both the ruling and Opposition parties sticking to their positions.
When the House re-assembled after the Speaker suspended the Question Hour following Opposition protest, leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala informed the Assembly that they could not cooperate with the proceedings as two of their colleagues were on hunger strike protesting against the fees hike and were boycotting the proceedings.
However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Opposition has been raising the issue of the private medical colleges since the beginning of the session and trying to disrupt the proceedings.
"The Opposition's attitude is not to end the stalemate. Their attitude in the talks held over the issue before was not constructive," he said.
Vijayan said the CPI(M) led-LDF government has drawn a clear 'lakshman rekha' (boundary) for the private managements.
"We have said in the Assembly that the government was ready to conduct a Vigilance probe into the allegations of capitation fee charged by managements. But, during today's talks, Chennithala wanted a crime branch inquiry. The government has no issue and any agency can probe the matter," the Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, the hunger strike by Shafi Parambil and Hibi Eden entered the sixth day at the foyer of the Assembly Hall.
Kerala Congress (J)'s Anoop Jacob, who was also on fast was shifted to Medical College Hospital here on October 1 after his health conditions worsened.
Earlier, the Opposition members, who came to the House wearing black badges and holding placards and banners, demanded the Speaker to suspend the Question Hour and wanted to hold talks to end the stalemate.
As the Opposition continued the protest encircling the Speaker's podium and squatted at the Well of the House raising slogans, the Speaker cancelled the Question Hour and called the front leaders for talks.
Later, in the absence of the Opposition, the House took up other businesses including discussion and voting on demands for grants in the revised budget for the financial year 2016-17 for ports and power departments.
Kerala Congress (M) members, who snapped their three-decade-old ties with UDF over differences recently, also staged a walkout alleging government's lukewarm approach to the MLAs' fast.