Gold smuggling, housing projects and other allegations against Pinarayi Vijayan government leads to no-confidence motion by Congress-led opposition

Gold smuggling, housing projects and other allegations against Pinarayi Vijayan government leads to no-confidence motion by Congress-led opposition
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan BCCL
The opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Monday moved a no-confidence motion against the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government in Kerala, raising a slew of allegations including the gold smuggling case.

Congress legislator V D Satheeshan moved the motion, saying the Chief Minister's office was "hijacked" by the gold smuggling gang.

"While the Chief Minister was attending the press conference and saying that everything was fine with the government and was ready to face any probe, his former principal secretary was being questioned by investigating agenciesfor hours," Satheeshan said.

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He said the ministers and the chief minister were trying to "put all the blame in the gold smuggling matter on the shoulders of suspended senior IAS officer and former IT Secretary M Sivashankar".

The state government has been facing severe criticism from the opposition Congress and the BJP, who alleged links of the gold smuggling case accused with the Chief Minister's Office.

The state government had earlier suspended Sivashankar, for his alleged links with Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case involving diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate here.

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The Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan has allotted five hours for the discussion on the no-confidence motion, the first against the four-year-old Pinarayi Vijayan government.

Adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, the Kerala Assembly convened for a day on Monday and passed the Finance Bill 2020-21, which could not be passed after the state budget in February as the House was adjourned sine die on March 13 due to the coronavirus scare.

The opposition has been attacking the government on various issues, including the gold smuggling case and Life Mission housing project for the poor since the past few days.

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In the 140-member house, LDF has 91 members and UDF 45.

A no-confidence motion against the government is being brought after 15 years.

In 2005, then CPI(M) MLA Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had moved a motion alleging corruption against the Oommen Chandy government.

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However, the UDF, is in aquagmire as the Jose K Mani faction of its ally Kerala Congress has decided to stay away from the motion owing to a factional feud.

The Kerala Congress party has five members, three belonging to party chairman P J Joseph and two of Jose Mani faction.

P C George, an independent member, has said he will vote for the motion.

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BJP has one member-- O Rajagopal.

The by-election to the Rajya Sabha seat which fell vacant after the death of sitting member 83-year-old M P Veerendra Kumar, a media baron and veteran socialist, on May 28, is progressing in the Assembly today.

The session was to have been held on July 27, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

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A medical team conducted rapid antigen tests on the members early in the morning and social distancing in seating arrangements have also been ensured.

However, visitors were not allowed for the session.

Each member will have a separate seat for the session, and provided with a sanitiser, mask and a pair of gloves and those entering the assembly complex were subjected to thermal scanning.

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