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Women's Wall: Kerala Assembly in turmoil, MLAs come to blows

Thiruvananthapuram

13-December-2018

Kerala MLAs came to blows on Thursday inside the Assembly after the opposition called the upcoming Women's Wall event on New Year's Day meant to take forward gender equality, "nothing but a communal wall that will be dismantled".

The Assembly session, which concluded on Thursday, has been facing turmoil right from the beginning of the 13-day session, coinciding with the ongoing Sabarimala pilgrimage amid prohibitory orders. 

The opposition Congress-led UDF has been up in arms against the Pinarayi Vijayan government for turning Sabarimala into a police fortress, causing innumerable hardships to the pilgrims.

On Thursday, as the question hour ended, Deputy Leader of Opposition and senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) member M.K. Muneer sought to move an adjournment motion to discuss the Women's Wall programme of the state government.

Vijayan responded saying that the event was being held to take forward the ideology of gender equality and uphold the dignity of women.

"If you (the opposition) are against this, please say that. We assure the House, no government money is being spent for this programme. The state government is just taking part to see that the ideology of great reformer Sree Narayana Guru is taken forward," he told the Assembly. 

Vijayan asked the opposition: "How can you all say that this is a communal event?" His speech was greeted by the treasury benches by thumping the desk. 

Then, Muneer got up to speak. He said: "Like in West Germany, if the Berlin wall was dismantled, the Women's Wall, which is a communal wall would be dismantled."

That was all that he could say, and the entire treasury bench was up on their feet, sloganeering.

They trooped to the Speaker's podium, forcing P. Sreeramakrishnan to adjourn the house.

When the house met again, Muneer said: "Why is that when I say the word communal wall, you go berserk, when others use the same word, there is no issue. I stick by what I said that this is nothing but a 'communal wall'. 

"You (Vijayan) say that this wall is part of the renaissance movement, but what right do you have to speak about renaissance. 

"It's just not the Hindus who took part in the erstwhile Renaissance Movement, Christians and Muslims also took part and we wish to ask you what wall are you now going to build without the Christians and Muslims," said Muneer.

Following which the sloganeering from across the benches increased, forcing the Speaker to rush through the listed business of the day.

The sloganeering and trooping of both benches' MLAs almost led to a clash, with P.K. Basheer of the IUML and V.Joy of the CPI-M coming to blows.

State Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunilkumar forcefully took away Joy, while Basheer was also taken away by others.

With the session coming to a close, Congress' Ramesh Chennithala said: "Vijayan knows that he has been caught on the wrong foot on the 'communal wall'. This is a communal wall and we will oppose it." 

The three protesting UDF members moved out of the foyer to take the protest outside the Assembly, as it was closed.-IANS