Chandy challenges LDF on bogus voting issue

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday termed as "unfortunate" the charge by the LDF that the ruling UDF combine passed the Vote on Account Bill in the Assembly by bogus voting and demanded Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan to disclose names of those involved in the act.

Chandy said as leader of the House he was ready to take the responsibility if any such malpractice had taken place during voting on the bill on July 20.

"The list of persons who voted in the House is with legislature secretariat and let the Opposition say who in that list had cast fake vote," he told reporters during a cabinet briefing. UDF had 70 members when the voting took place and LDF had 67.

The budget session of the Kerala Assembly came to a stormy end on July 20 with CPI(M)-led LDF opposition disrupting proceedings, accusing the Congress-led UDF of deliberately delaying division on Vote on Account to muster enough strength.

LDF members alleged that Speaker G Karthikeyan allowed Finance Minister K M Mani to prolong his speech to enable UDF members outside the House at the time to get back to their seats and ensure that the government carried the vote.

Describing as "unfortunate" the Opposition stance against the UDF on the issue, Chandy alleged the LDF, which had refrained from voting after demanding a vote on the floor of the House, was "raking up the issue to cover up their embarrassment" over their boycott of voting on the Bill.

The Chief Minister also came down heavily on the proposed indefinite strike by government doctors in the state from August 1 and said the strike call was "anti-people."

Government doctors are on a non-cooperation strike since February 24 in support of their various demands including correction of perceived anomalies in pay scales as a prelude to their indefinite strike.

Chandy said an agreement was reached on their demands during talks held with representatives of Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) on Sunday last.

However, the KGMOA leaders announced after the talks their decision to go for indefinite strike "without any reasons," Chandy said, adding the government had no objection to hold talks with the striking doctors again.