Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Assembly in a one-day special session passed a resolution against the Centre’s new farm laws, but not without its own share of controversies and surprises.
The lone BJP member, O Rajagopal, opposed the motion while participating in the discussion on the Centre’s farm bills, but when it was put to vote he was seen supporting the resolution, which he later justified as in keeping with the spirit of the house.
The action, however, put his party in a predicament as he was seen following a line that was directly opposed to BJP’s and the Modi government’s stand on the issue. There were even suggestions from among state party leaders that action must be taken against the senior BJP legislator, who had even been a central minister once.
State BJP president K Surendran is learnt to have spoken to Rajagopal, after which the affable ‘Rajettan’, as he is addressed to by both friends and foes alike, issued a press note, clarifying that he could not oppose the resolution as the Speaker had only called for the votes of those who supported the motion.
This gave him no opportunity to record his vote against the resolution, he clarified.
The video recording of the proceedings, however, showed the Speaker calling for both votes, but Rajagopal had his hand raised when it was the turn of those who supported the motion.
In fact, the lone BJP member had told newspersons after he emerged from the house that he had recorded his opposition to the motion while participating in the debate, but decided to support the motion to reflect the spirit of the house, which he claimed was in keeping with lofty democratic traditions.
The resolution, moved by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and passed by the house, was highly critical of the Modi government, and expressed the fear that if the farmers' agitation was allowed to continue further, it would affect the flow of food grains and other goods to a consumer state like Kerala.
It further asked the Centre to scrap the new laws, which it alleged were passed in a jiffy and without proper consultations with the representatives of farmers. While moving the motion, the chief minister described the new laws as completely anti-farmer and in favour of corporates.
But the chief minister was careful not to criticise Narendra Modi personally, as demanded by Congress leader K C Joseph, who accused the chief minister of being soft towards the prime minister. In fact, Congress has been accusing the CPI-M of having a tacit understanding with the BJP for its support in the Lavalin case seeking prosecution of Pinarayi Vijayan, but was being deferred indefinitely in the Supreme Court.
Joseph also criticised the chief minister for sending two of his ministers to the governor with a Christmas cake to plead with him for granting permission to hold the special assembly session. The governor had twice rejected the state cabinet’s recommendation to this effect.
An amendment to the resolution, proposed by Joseph in this regard, was defeated with a voice vote.