Kerala Budget highlights leaked, Thomas Isaac sacks additional secretary

Mr Chennithala later termed the Budget as a mere bunch of papers as it lost its sanctity.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An official at the finance minister’s office was sacked on Friday on charges of leaking Budget highlights that triggered Opposition protest in the Assembly. They demanded finance minister Dr Isaac’s resignation. Assistant private secretary K. Manojkumar was removed from the minister’s office. Dr Isaac said that though it seemed to be a slip on the part of the official, it could not be taken lightly. Dr Isaac started his Budget presentation by around 9 am and it went on smoothly till 11.18 am when the UDF MLAs raised the allegation that portions of the Budget proposals yet to be announced were being flashed by TV channels and circulated on social media.

The LDF camp, especially Dr Isaac, was taken aback at the charges. Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and finance minister said that the allegations would be looked into, the Opposition insisted on an immediate explanation from the government and UDF MLAs also trooped into the well of House shouting slogans. Opposition also pointed fingers at the finance minister's office citing that the minister was social media savvy. Though the FM could resume Budget speech by 11.28 am, the Opposition continued with noisy scenes. Congress MLA V.T. Balaram even read out the highlight of the Budget along along with the minister's speech. Later, the Opposition walked out of the house alleging that the Budget lost its sanctity.

Mr Chennithala later termed the Budget as a mere bunch of papers as it lost its sanctity. The Opposition also alleged that portions of the Budget speech appeared in a vernacular morning daily on Friday. Meanwhile, sources said that the highlights of the Budget were mailed by the assistant private secretary by a slip. The note containing highlights was meant for distribution to the media after the presentation of Budget. Manojkumar had set the mail containing highlights ready on his email and kept in the drafts folder. But accidentally it got sent, sources said. Earlier, the row unfolded in the Assembly after former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was seen going out of the House and coming back after a few minutes with a bunch of papers. He called Congress MLA V.D. Satheesan to his seat and briefed something. Subsequently, Mr Satheesan went to Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and few minutes later the row erupted.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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