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UDF walkout over Lottery issue in Kerala Assembly

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 13:43

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly on Tuesday witnessed noisy scenes over the alleged irregularities in the
operation of Bhutan Lotteries in the state leading to walkout
by Congress led Opposition UDF members after Speaker K
Radhakrishnan refused leave for their adjournment motion on
the issue.

Opposition members wanted a detailed discussion considering
the seriousness of the matter in the wake of Chief Minister VS
Achuthanandan writing to the Centre seeking either a CBI or NIA
probe into the financial irregularities in the operation of
Bhutan lotteries in the state.

Taking up the matter, Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said
that the issue was very significant as Achuthanandan had
mentioned in the letter about the possibility of the lottery
money being used for terrorist activities in the state.

Achuthanandan while seeking probe by a Central agency had
stated that Rs 80, 000 crores in the past four years were
being siphoned off from the state by Lottery operators.

Possibility of the money being used for terrorist activities
and whitening of black money also could not be ruled out,
Achuthanandan had pointed out in the letter.

Both ruling CPI(M) led LDF members and UDF traded charges
against each other over not initiating action against the
operators of Bhutan lotteries.

While LDF maintained other state lotteries could be banned
only by the Centre, UDF said that LDF was passing the buck
without enforcing the necessary provisions under the Central
Lottery Act.

Replying to the notice for the motion, Achuthanandan refuted
the Opposition charge that Finance Minister TM Thomas Issac
was responsible for allowing the irregularities to happen
and blamed the Centre, particularly Union Home Minister P
Chidambaram.

Achuthanandan said operation of Bhutan lotteries in the
state were curtailed now with the provisions in the Lottery
ordinance pronounced by the state. Action against the
operators was also on, he said.

Though, the state had repeatedly asked the Centre to take action
against the operators there was no positive response, he said.

Chandy wanted to know from Achuthanandan why Santiago Martin,
stated to be the person behind the operation of Bhutan
lotteries, was not arrested till now even though state itself
admitted that irregularities to a tune of Rs 52 crores per day
had taken place.

Seeking leave for the motion, VD Sateeshan (Congress) demanded
the resignation of Issac owing
moral responsibility for the irregularities. `If Issac did not
resign, the chief minister should sack him from the ministry`, he
said.

Speaker K Radhakrishnan refused leave for the motion after
the reply of Achuthanandan following which
the opposition members walked out of the House.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 13:43

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