The ruling side and the Opposition fought every inch of the ground as the assembly began its two-day debate on the no-confidence motion against the 38-day old Karunakaran ministry. The debate started immediately after the new Speaker A C Jose was elected uncontested and was installed. It progressed through a series of bitter procedural wrangles and arguments over proprieties. It’s expected to end with the crucial voting on February 4. The Opposition’s main point was that the government still did not have a majority, that the governor had committed impropriety in installing it, that the Government was the child of political immorality propped up by defections and that the casting vote of the speaker could not sustain a government. The government side countered this by saying that the misrule of the Marxist-led government had forced the democratic forces to come together.
Representatives of three Opposition parties — the Janata, the Lok Dal and the Congress — discussed inconclusively the modalities of their merger in an effort to form a national alternative to the Congress (I). The discussion will be resumed on February 7. The convenor of the coordination party of the three parties, Biju Patnaik, was hopeful that the modalities and policies of the three parties would be finalised in the meeting.
The interrogation of the group pf Indians who were deported from Lebanon earlier this week has revealed a massive racket to recruit mercenary soldiers from India under the cover of exporting labour to West Asia. Scores of villagers, especially from Punjab, are suspected to have been duped by these agents and sent to Beirut to fight as soldiers for the warring groups there.