Thiruvananthapuram | The Congress-led opposition UDF on Tuesday alleged in the Kerala assembly that the LDF government has failed to address the price rise issue in the state.
Refuting the allegation, the ruling Left front hit back by saying the situation was worse in Congress-ruled states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
The UDF raised the price rise issue in an adjournment notice moved by Congress MLA P C Vishnunadh and some other opposition legislators seeking setting aside of other House proceedings to discuss the matter.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil denied the allegations of the opposition and said there was no need to discuss the issue raised by adjourning the House.
In view of the stand taken by the minister, Speaker A N Shamseer denied permission for adjourning the House.
Following the denial of permission, the opposition staged a walkout "in strong protest" against the alleged lack of government intervention to address the issue of rising prices of essential commodities in the state.
Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the assembly V D Satheesan alleged that SupplyCo (Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited) was under a huge debt of over Rs 3,000 crore and therefore, the organisation is unable to procure essential commodities.
He also contended that if SupplyCo has to procure essential commodities that are to be provided at subsidised rates before Onam, SupplyCo has to be given around Rs 700 crore.
The notice for adjournment was opposed by Anil who said that the state government has been able to effectively intervene in the market through its civil supplies corporation and SupplyCo stores and was providing essential commodities at subsidised rates to the public.
He also said that during a recent visit to Delhi, he found that prices there were much higher than in Kerala. "Similar is the situation in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana," he claimed in the House.
Anil also refuted the allegation that essential commodities, to be provided at subsidised rates, were not available in SupplyCo stores.
The House witnessed intense scenes during the walkout speech of the LoP with several ministers of the ruling front standing up and refuting Satheesan's claims.
Subsequently, several UDF MLAs trooped into the well of the House and shouted slogans under the Speaker's dias demanding discussion of the issue.
Afterwards, as the Left front ministers resumed their seats, the UDF MLAs went back to their seats too.
However, the lull was short-lived as again the ruling front loudly objected to the LoP's allegation that SupplyCo was not getting funds due to some disagreement between the Finance and Civil Supplies departments.
He alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was not doing anything to resolve the row between the two departments and questioned whether the Kerala government has decided it no longer needs SupplyCo.
Satheesan also asked the Chief Minister whether the SupplyCo can function with the huge debt burden saddled by it.
The LoP alleged that the state government was acting as a mute spectator to the issue of price rise that was plaguing the public.
He also said that if the ruling front continues the conduct of disrupting walkout speeches, "it would be difficult to co-operate with House proceedings".
After the opposition walked out, Ministers K N Balagopal and P Rajeev contended that the Speaker should allow the ruling front to intervene in walkout speeches if alleged incorrect statements are made in that.
The Speaker said that unless the LoP yields, his walkout speech cannot be interfered with.
Shamseer also said that he would consider the ministers' contention regarding alleged incorrect statements in the LoP's walkout speech.