The Kerala Assembly witnessed unprecedented violence on Friday as Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) members tried to prevent Finance Minister K.M. Mani, who faces bribery charges in connection with the bar licence row, from presenting the 2015-2016 budget.
Roads leading to the legislature turned into a war zone with LDF activists fighting pitched battles with the police, setting fire to a police van and government vehicles and throwing stones.
Inside the House, Mr. Mani presented the budget, showing a cumulative deficit of Rs. 848 crore and announcing taxation proposals that could push up prices of many essentials.
The budget speech, 140 pages in print, lasted just six minutes as Opposition members, who had occupied the Speaker’s dais from early morning, jostled with the watch and ward staff to get close to him and almost came to blows with their treasury bench counterparts in a bid to break the security cover around the Finance Minister.
As many as nine Opposition MLAs were admitted to hospital after some collapsed and others complained of exhaustion. Twelve watch and ward staff were also admitted to hospital with minor injuries.
Meeting shortly after the dispersal of the House, the LDF leadership announced a dawn-to-dusk hartal on Saturday to protest ‘the attack’ on Opposition MLAs and the lathi-charge on activists.