Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that by walking on the streets of Kozhikode without the required security measures, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has shown to the country that Kerala’s law and order conditions are “safe and healthy”. He was addressing the media at a press conference in Kollam on Tuesday, December 18.
“How many other states in India are safe for people occupying such positions to walk on the streets without making prior security arrangements? That is what is special for Kerala. The Governor himself has come to realise that Kerala’s law and order situation is secure and has shown the same to the country through his actions,” Pinarayi asked.
However, the CM added that a person occupying a high-ranking position like the Governor of a state should not flout established protocols to do as he chooses, no matter how safe and secure a state is. “It is not a good example, it was the wrong thing to do,” Pinarayi said. “Whether or not the Governor declines security, it is the duty of the Kerala police to offer security to someone belonging to the Z+ security category. It is offered to the position, not as per the likes and dislikes of the Governor. It will be given for sure,” he added.
“The Governor visited the shops in Mittai Theruvu (Kozhikode’s SM Street) and even tasted the sweets there. In one sense, it is good that he did it – he has thereby contributed to the fame of the street. It helped highlight Kerala’s healthy and secure conditions,” the CM said.
When asked if the Governor may have declined police protection with the aim of causing a security issue, the CM laughed and said, “The Governor will have to say what is in his head.” He, however, added that the Governor needs to realise that protests in Kerala take place in a manageable manner, without ever going out of control.
“The protests that the Governor witnessed are those that emerged when an issue came up that demanded protests against him. There is no need to see other sides to it. The protestors are not goondas or criminals like the Governor said. They are the students who hold the future promises of our land. All they did was to question the Governor, who in his role as Chancellor, did things that should not have been done. When their initial protests were not heeded, the students intensified their protests. It shows the strength of democracy and the uniqueness of Kerala,” the CM said.
Following this, a reporter asked the CM if the protests of the Congress, Youth Congress, and the Kerala Students Union against the government and its Nava Kerala Sadas programme are “democratic”. He replied, “Anybody has the right to protest democratically. Whether the protest should be democratic or not is for them to decide. But they also should say what they are protesting against.”
To this, the reporter said that the protestors have cited the government’s “wasteful spending” as the reason for the protest. The reporter also pointed out that the protesters were being manhandled not by the police, but by the workers of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the CM’s personal security personnel. This observation was followed by the question whether this was the right action to take. Pinarayi responded by asking her which media organisation she represented and laughed before he proceeded to give the answer.
Even on Tuesday, workers of the Youth Congress and DYFI clashed in Kollam.
“When speaking of wasteful spending, we must first see what the spending has been made for. Nava Kerala Sadas are against the Union government’s disregard towards Kerala. Our state has been able to attain a good position thanks to the efficient financial management of the government. … The financial crisis we are facing is because the Union government is not transparent when it comes to the Union’s tax devolution to the states. A similar situation prevails when it comes to giving us our revenue deficit grant. The Union government gives to those states its favours, and reduces the shares of others. Even the Finance Commission is being used to this end. Kerala is also yet to receive more than Rs 5000 crores for implementing Central Schemes in the state. In addition to that, the state’s right to borrow, which is a Constitutionally-granted one, is being denied to us. In the seven years after 2016, Kerala was denied Rs 1, 07,500 crore by limiting our borrowing capacity. This is the problem.”