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Kerala budget: LDF, Yuva morcha members protest in assembly

Kerala budget: LDF, Yuva morcha members protest in assembly
Thiruvananthapuram: Hundreds of LDF activists and Yuva Morcha members had converged around the Kerala Assembly Complex as part of a protest siege to prevent state Finance Minister KM Mani from presenting the budget on Friday.

Amid massive protests inside and outside the state assembly, Mani read out the budget in haste, surrounded by marshals to prevent opposition leaders from heckling him.

Ugly scenes were witnessed in the assembly. Speaker's chair was toppled and mics were thrown away as lawmakers clashed. One MLA fainted owing to the chaos and commotion but the Finance Minister continued to present the budget.

A high level security was put in place and barricades had been set up by the police in the vicinity. Activists began to pour in large numbers in the area since last evening.

Tension mounted in the state capital after CPI(M)-led LDF opposition warned the Congress-headed UDF government that they would go to any extent if Mani, facing allegations in the bar bribery case, would try to present the budget and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy made it clear in the Assembly that Mani himself would present the budget as he has the constitutional right for it.

Putting pressure on the ruling Front, the LDF MLAs stayed in the Assembly complex last night as part of their plans to check Mani inside the House while he comes to present the budget in the morning. Apparently fearing the blockage and siege, Mani and some of his cabinet colleagues also stayed back inside the Assembly complex last night.

Taking up the challenge of the Opposition, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintained in the Assembly on Thursday that allegations against Mani were part of a "political conspiracy”.

Reacting to Chandy's stand, CPI(M) veteran and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the government would have to face consequences if it let "tainted" Mani present the budget and Chandy alone would be responsible for that.

Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had registered a case against Mani in December last year in connection with the allegations that he had accepted bribe from bar owners to renew liquor licences. The allegations were levelled by Kerala state Bar Hotel Owner's Association Working President Biju Ramesh.

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