Month-long Kerala Assembly session begins on Monday

A month-long session of the Kerala Assembly begins on Monday.

Thiruvananthapuram: A month-long session of the Kerala Assembly begins on Monday and rival fronts are gearing up for a showdown in the house, with the opposition strength increasing with recent defections from the treasury benches.

The Congress-led opposition of the United Democratic Front (UDF) is likely to highlight the failure of the government led by VS Achuthanandan for taking any major development initiative in its four-year rule.

The treasury benches may hit back over a faction of the Kerala Congress (Joseph) merging with the second biggest party in the opposition, Kerala Congress (Mani).

The latest fuel price hike announced by the Congress-led central government may also give the treasury benches some ammunition to attack the party which leads the Kerala opposition.

Of the four legislators in the Kerala Congress (Joseph) all but Surendran Pillai joined with the Kerala Congress (Mani) in May.

Congress legislator K Sivadasan Nair said that there is no doubt that the state has gone back by many years in the last four years.

"The people are asking what has been this government doing and not a single development project worth mentioning has taken place up. The Rs 1,500 crore Smart City project at Kochi is in limbo, even after three years have elapsed after the MoU with its partner Smart City Dubai was inked," he said.

"Look into the number of lock up deaths that have taken place. The atmosphere in the college campus is vitiated because police are a mute witness and unable to take action against the trouble makers," said Nair.

For the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front, the merger between a faction of Kerala Congress (Joseph) led by PJ Joseph, who quit the Achuthanandan cabinet in April this year, is going to provide enough ammunition to hit back at the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).

Senior CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham said that their government is standing on a strong wicket with nearly half of the state population getting rice at Rs 2 per kg.

He also highlighted the implementation of projects like housing schemes for the weaker sections of society and other welfare projects.

"With regards to Joseph leaving the cabinet, it is insignificant because already a vigilance probe was on against his deeds just before he quit. We are all waiting to see how the UDF will defend this. Joseph is not our problem it is theirs now," said Abraham.

The Achuthanandan government assumed office in May 2006 by winning 100 seats and the UDF winning 40 seats, of the total 140. Monday will see the strength of the UDF now totaling 48 as against 92 in the LDF camp.

Four years after the Assembly Elections, the political equation has changed and many legislators have left the LDF.

These include PC George, who has merged his Kerala Congress (Secular) with Kerala Congress (Mani) last year.

Also, as a result of a split in the Janata Dal (S), three out of its five legislators led by former Lok Sabha member MP Veerendra Kumar joined the UDF last year.

Monday`s session will see only Pillai, one of the four erstwhile Kerala Congress (Joseph) legislators, occupying the treasury benches.

Another new addition to the opposition benches would be the lone Indian National League legislator PMA Salam. Last month, his party decided to end its friendly alliance with the LDF.

As the session starting Monday is the last one ahead of the local agency polls scheduled in August-September, the rival fronts would be putting their best foot forward to score a point over each other.


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