The Kerala Assembly’s budget session began on an unruly note Wednesday, as United Democratic Front (UDF) MLAs gheraoed Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan as he arrived in the House for deciding to skip the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) reference in his address. Khan, however, read the statement in its entirety.
While Khan earlier said he would not read the 18th paragraph, which criticised the CAA, in his policy address on the first day of the budget session, he later read out the paragraph saying it was on the insistence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayai Vijayan.
“I’m going to read this para (against CAA) because CM wants me to read this, although I hold the view this doesn’t come under policy or programme. CM has said this is the view of government and to honor his wish I’m going to read this paragraph,” Khan told the House.
The address is prepared by the state government and lists achievements as well as the roadmap ahead.
Earlier, state Assembly marshals had to escort Governor Khan to his chair as slogans of “recall Governor”, “repeal CAA” and “go back” were raised by UDF MLAs on his arrival.
CM Vijayan and Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan persuaded the Opposition to stop the protests, however, the protesting MLAs did not pay heed and later staged a walkout from the Assembly.
Alleging that Governor Khan was acting as “as a tool in the hands of RSS and BJP”, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said, “Governor Arif Mohammad Khan is ridiculing the Kerala assembly for passing a resolution requesting central government to withdraw CAA. He is acting as the state president of BJP, as a tool in the hands of RSS & BJP.”
Taking a dig at Vijayan, Chennithala further stated that there was a secret understanding between the CPM and the Governor which is evident. “CM is involved in Lavalin corruption case which iscoming up for hearing this week in Supreme Court. He wants the help of Central government.”
Chennithala on Saturday had said that he will move a resolution in the Kerala Assembly, seeking Khan’s recall for “violating” all democratic principles and “publicly questioning” the pride of the legislature.
“Even the single member of the BJP in the Kerala Assembly did not cast his vote against the resolution passed by the Assembly against the CAA. But, the Governor has made public statements saying it was unconstitutional,” Chennithala had told a press conference.
The Speaker had said on Tuesday that the UDF resolution was permissible under law. “The Opposition’s resolution is permissible under law. We will take a final call in the matter after discussing it in the business advisory committee,” he said
Khan has been at loggerheads with the Left government in Kerala over the amended citizenship law. The state was the first to pass an anti-CAA resolution in the Assembly, which seeks to scrap the new law and move apex court under Article 131 against it.
Khan alleged he was not informed about the state government moving a petition in the Supreme Court, as he cleared that he was not a “rubber stamp” and termed the decried the state’s act as “improper”.
(with PTI inputs)
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