Uproar in Kerala Assembly over budget 'leak', Oppn demands Finance Minister resign

Thomas Isaac maintained that budget papers had not been leaked, but admitted that highlights were leaked.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly on Monday witnessed noisy scenes over the alleged leakage of budget with Congress led UDF Opposition demanding resignation of Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac, even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured that Cabinet would take an appropriate decision on the matter.

Taking up the alleged leakage of budget presented by Isaac on March 3 as an adjournment motion, UDF members wanted Isaac's resignation for alleged violation of oath of office and secrecy.

Replying to the notice, Isaac maintained that budget papers had not been leaked, but admitted that highlights, used to be given to media after budget presentation, got leaked "inadvertently" before presentation of the budget was over.

"There was no wilful intention and there is no loss to the government or unlawful gain to anyone", he said, adding there were no tax proposals also.

However, not satisfied with the reply, Opposition members continued raising slogans and rushed to the well of the House.

As the protest continued Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan adjourned the House briefly and called the Front leaders for a meeting to work out a solution for smooth functioning of the assembly.

Later, when the House reassembled, Vijayan made a statement that Chief Secretary had been asked to file a detailed report and it would be placed before the cabinet, after which appropriate action will be taken.

Earlier, while intervening in the matter, Vijayan rejected the opposition charges and said that there was no violation.

Defending the Finance Minister, Vijayan said there was also no lapse on the part of Isaac as per the interim report of Chief Secretary, who had been asked to enquire the matter.

He also described the opposition protest as a "storm in a tea cup".

However, there had been some "carelessness" on the part of an official in the Finance Minister's office, Vijayan said quoting Chief Secretary's report.

"The official had been shifted", Vijayan said, adding, the demand for Isaac's resignation was only a smokescreen to take away the sheen from the people friendly budget".

Opposition leader in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said taking into consideration various issues being faced by the state including drought and price rise, they were keen to participate in the debate and cooperate with the Speaker to ensure the House's smooth functioning.

Chennithala however attacked the Finance Minister and said, "Isaac, who has presented 8 budgets, had himself leaked it and this had happened for the first time in the country."

Budget documents are extremely confidential and it is surprising that it came into the hands of Personal Assistant. That shows the careless manner in which it had been handled, thus violating the oath of secrecy", he said and sought an apology from Isaac.

Earlier, seeking notice for the motion, V D Sateeshan (Cong) charged that since a Malayalam daily had published details of the budget even before it was presented and thehighlights reached the social and visual media, prosecution proceedings should be launched against Isaac for violation of Official Secrets Act.

While UDF members remained in the House, Kerala Congress (M) MLAs led by former Finance Minister K M Mani and lone BJP MLA, O Rajagopal staged a walkout in protest against the government's stand on the issue.

( Source : PTI )
Next Story