Kerala guv speaks on CAA in Assembly, but airs reservations

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 29 (IANS) The proceedings of the Kerala Assembly on Wednesday were marred by unsavoury incidents, wherein opposition members raised slogans against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan who later in his speech aired the state government’s views on the CAA but not without first registering his reservations.

As he arrived to address the Assembly, Khan was waylaid by the Congress-led opposition members on the House floor. The opposition MLAs stopped him in the Assembly well amid sloganeering.

Khan throughout maintained his cool, wearing a smile, and greeted the protesters with folded hands. As he waited for things to cool down, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan standing next to him had a grim face.

It was only after a few minutes of sloganeering that the watch-and-ward staff of the Assembly descended on the spot to escort Khan to the podium.

But as soon as the Governor began his address, the opposition members walked out. No Governor in Kerala has faced such protests on the Assembly floor in the past.

Then it was the turn of Khan to create a new precedent — Before speaking on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act mentioned in his written speech, the Governor said that even though he “disagreed” with his government’s views, he would still read it.

In the past, whenever a Governor was not in agreement with any statement incorporated in his address to the Assembly, he simply avoided reading out that portion.

“Before I read it, I will say I have my reservations although I hold the view that this is not part of the policy or programmes of the government. I honour the wish of the Chief Minister, though I don’t agree to it; but I will read it,” the Governor remarked and read out the Pinarayi Vijayan government’s opposition to the CAA.

Just before entering his vehicle to return to Raj Bhavan, Khan told the waiting media: “I have seen much bigger protests than this when I was in the Assembly.”

Later, speaking to the media at the main gate of the Assembly where the opposition staged a sit-in, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said that “it’s a shame that Vijayan had to fall at the Governor’s feet, as was evident from the developments”.

“What Vijayan should have done was to support my resolution that seeks to withdraw the Governor from the state. Khan is an agent of the RSS and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Today, Vijayan has succumbed to them as his SNC Lavalin corruption case is coming up for hearing in the Supreme Court next week. The other day, he organised a human chain to protest against the CAA but in the evening was seen in Khan’s company. We feel ashamed over the actions of Vijayan,” said Chennithala.

State Parliamentary Affairs Minister A.K. Balan told the media that the Governor and the state government had done a good job in meeting a constitutional requirement. “It was a good decision on the Governor’s part to read out the portion, though it was earlier planned to be omitted. The opposition conspiracy has fallen flat and the Kerala people will not accept waylaying of the Governor,” said Balan.

In a controversial remark, Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan alleged that the opposition behaviour showed as if some mental issues were involved.



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