UDF walkout over Lottery issue in Kerala assembly
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala assembly on Tuesday witnessed noisy scenes over the alleged irregularties 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 seriouness of the matter in the wake of Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan writing to 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 T M Thomas Issac was responsible for allowing the irregularities to happen and blamed the Centre particulerly The Union Home Minister P Chidambram.
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 repetadely asked 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, V D Sateeshan (Cong) demanded the resignation of Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac owing moral responsibility for the irregularities. `If Issac did not resign, Chief Minister should sack him from the ministry`, he said.
Speaker K Radhakrishnan refused leave for the motion after the reply of Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan following which the opposition members walked out of the house.
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