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Therambil Ramakrishnan elected Speaker

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, SEPT. 16. The senior Congress MLA, Therambil Ramakrishnan, was today elected Speaker of the Kerala Assembly.

Mr. Ramakrishnan defeated his nearest LDF rival, A. K. Balan, in the election by secret ballot. He secured 94 votes as against the 39 obtained by Mr. Balan in the 141-member Assembly. The former Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, and the CPI (M) deputy leader, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, were among the seven members who were absent from the House. The others who were absent included Mercy Ravi, Girija Surendran, Johnny Nellore, Elizabeth Mammen Mathai and the Labour Minister, Babu Divakaran.

Foregone conclusion

The election had to be held when the LDF decided to field a candidate. The result was a foregone conclusion given the massive majority the UDF had in the current Assembly.

Even though two UDF partners, the Kerala Congress (Jacob) and the Kerala Congress (B), were unhappy at their exclusion from the Chandy Cabinet, the disaffection was not reflected in the voting pattern with both the parties deciding to vote for the UDF candidate.

The post of Speaker fell vacant following the resignation of Vakkom B. Purushothaman, who has since joined the Oommen Chandy Cabinet. The Deputy Speaker, Sundaran Nadar, while initiating the election process, said that eight nomination papers had been received on behalf of Mr. Ramakrishnan and three on behalf of Mr. Balan.

The CPI (M) member, T. K. Devakumar, raised an objection stating that the members of the House were not officially informed about the changes in the treasury benches. The Opposition Leader, V. S. Achuthanandan, who pointed out that the members should have been informed about the changes, supported him. The Deputy Speaker, however, overruled the objections after which the elections were held.

The Law Minister, K. M. Mani, pointed out that the question of informing the members of the House rose only when the Chief Minister was not a member of the Assembly. In this case, Mr. Chandy was a member of the Assembly and had been sworn in as Chief Minister by the Governor. The Government had followed all the procedures in this regard, he said. Mr. Ramakrishnan is becoming Speaker for the second time. He was the Speaker for an 11-month period from June 1995 to May 1996.

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