KL This Week: Assembly Passes Unanimous Resolution to Change State Name to 'Keralam'
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NewsClick presents a round-up of important developments in Kerala during the past week, including the announcement of candidates by both the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) for the Puthupally Assembly constituency bypoll scheduled on September 5, the conduct of a 'maha dharna' and demonstrations by the joint platform of trade unions, and the resolution passed by the Assembly seeking the change of the state's name to 'Keralam'.
The by-election for the Puthuppally Assembly segment, which fell vacant after the former CM Oommen Chandy's death, is scheduled for September 5. The UDF has announced Chandy Oommen, the son of the former CM, as the candidate, while the LDF announced Jaick C Thomas, a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), as its candidate. He contested against Oommen Chandy in 2016 and 2021.
The Assembly session abruptly ended after the announcement of the election and the implementation of the code of conduct. The notification was issued on August 10 by the Election Commission of India. The last date for filing nominations is August 17, and the results will be announced on September 8. Both the UDF and LDF have sought to defer the election, citing Ayyankali, and Sree Narayana Guru Jayanthi, all falling on the last week of August. The festival of St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Cathedral, observed with eight days of lent, also falls during the same period.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders’ demand for sainthood for Oommen Chandy has led to controversy. Leaders from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] have accused the Congress of using religion for electoral gains.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to announce its candidate. Anil K Antony, the son of the former chief minister AK Antony, who has been appointed as the national secretary of the BJP barely three months after joining the party, has refused to comment on his candidature.
TRADE UNIONS OBSERVE 'SAVE INDIA DAY'
The joint platform of trade unions observed August 9 as 'Save India Day,' a protest called by the national leadership against the anti-worker policies of the Union government led by the BJP. Dharnas and rallies were held in Thiruvananthapuram and district headquarters across the state on the day the historic 'Quit India Movement' was launched against the imperialistic British rule in 1942. Rallies were taken out to central government organisations before the demonstrations. The trade unions condemned the pro-corporate, anti-worker, and devastating economic policies of the BJP government, resulting in increasing unemployment, contract labour, abolition of permanent jobs, privatization of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), merger of nationalised banks, among other regressive measures.
A rally in Thrissur district on Save India Day. (Courtesy: CITU Kerala)
ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION ON CHANGING THE NAME OF THE STATE
The Kerala Assembly passed a resolution unanimously asking the Union government to change the name of the state to 'Keralam.' The resolution urged the Union government to amend the Constitution to effect the name change. The name of the state is 'Keralam' in Malayalam, the official language of the state. The state of Kerala came into existence on November 1, 1956, after the formation of linguistic states, and the resolution urged the Union government to amend Article 3 of the Constitution. The resolution will be handed over to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which will seek opinions from departments including railways, intelligence bureau, posts, and surveys. The Bill would be introduced in Parliament after obtaining ‘No Objection’ from these departments.
HEALTH WORKERS PROTECTION BILL
The Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Bill, 2023, has been sent to the subject committee after discussions in the Assembly on August 8. The government had passed an ordinance after a house surgeon, Dr. Vandana Das, was stabbed to death while on duty in Kottarakkara taluk hospital by a patient reportedly addicted to drugs. While some members emphasised the safety of the health workers, some claimed the Bill is one-sided, leaving behind the rights of the patients. Health Minister Veena George proposed the bill to be sent to the subject committee to address the concerns raised by different members.
STATE DEMANDS REGULATION OF AIRFARES
Union Minister for Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, in a letter to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, has refused to intervene in capping the increasing airfares during the Onam festival. The minister has also stated that the power to fix fares rests with the airline companies. Travellers from foreign countries, particularly from the Gulf region, pay exorbitantly high fares during vacations and festival seasons. The Union government has, on multiple occasions, turned down the request of the state government to operate chartered flights from specific destinations to Kerala to save the passengers from losing money.
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