Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan read only the first and last paragraphs of the 61-page address prepared by the state government, during his customary address of the state assembly on the first day of the session in the New Year. Though the Opposition Congress slammed the Governor’s action and called it a ‘black day in the history of Kerala Assembly’, Minister for Fisheries, Culture and Youth Affairs Saji Cherian said that the Governor shortened speech due to his health issues.
The Governor and CPI(M) have been at loggerheads for a while and have been taking on one another in public space and it continued on Thursday when Governor Arif arrived at the foyer of the Assembly. Though he was greeted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his entourage, everyone except the Governor and the CM were in smiles. As soon as CM Pinarayi handed over the bouquet to Khan, he quickly gave it to his aide and with a grim face walked into the floor of the Assembly.
The Assembly witnessed a rather unprecedented scene as the Governor, after reading the opening statement that he is pleased to address the House, said, “Now, I am going to read the last paragraph...”. And after reading the first and last paragraphs of the 61-page-long speech, the Governor took an immediate leave. The Governor, when asked by the waiting media about the reason, just folded his hands and got into the car and drove away.
“It is my honour and privilege to address this august body of representatives of the people of Kerala marking the beginning of the 10th Session of the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly,” he said and went to the last paragraph, “Let us remember that our greatest legacy lies not in buildings or monuments, but in the respect and regard we show to the priceless legacy of the Constitution of India and the timeless values of democracy, secularism, federalism and social justice. The essence of cooperative federalism is what has kept our country united and strong all these years. It is our bounden duty to ensure that this essence is not diluted. Together as part of this varied and beautiful nation we will weave the tapestry of inclusive growth and responsible resilience, overcoming all the challenges that are thrown our way”.
The parts the Governor skipped starts with the achievements of the Kerala government. It said, “My Government has been wholeheartedly pursuing the goals of strengthening grassroot democracy, promoting scientific temper, and secular values in education and inculcating holistic history sense in the younger generation.”
It further talked about Keraleeyam, a week-long grand event called ‘Keraleeyam’, to celebrate its cultural heritage, progress and various achievements through the years; and Nava Kerala Sadas, a massive outreach initiative by Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.
A major portion of the speech pertained to the achievements of Kerala government, and the government’s initiatives across specific sectors - agriculture, local governance, human development, industries, IT, labour and commerce, infrastructure and others. The speech ended with a portion on condemning genocides across the world, “My Government unequivocally condemns the crime of genocide and all crimes against humanity and wishes for an end to the cycle of death, destruction and despair that they engender. We hold firm in our aspiration for a world where there is peace, hope and unwavering respect for human life.”
Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan slammed Khan for disrespecting the Assembly. “The Governor has the Constitutional responsibility to make the inaugural speech. But his action of reading only the last paragraph is seen as a complete insult to the Assembly. It is a neglect and insult to the Assembly and the Constitution, and we are condemning this. This is seen as a pitiful end to the drama that has been going on for a while between the ruling government and the Governor,” he said.
Deputy leader of the Opposition PK Kunhalikutty said everything was over in a flash and a mockery was made in the Assembly. “We were waiting to greet him, but he did not even look at us,” said Kunhalikutty. Congress MLA Sunny Joseph said that it was a black day in the history of Kerala Assembly.
It is pertinent to note that the Tamil Nadu Assembly witnessed a similar scene in January last year, when Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi omitted three portions from his customary address. These portions were on Ambedkar, Dravidian leaders, Dravidian model of governance and on the law and order situation in Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister MK Stalin soon moved a resolution urging the Speaker to declare as valid only the text prepared for the Governor’s address, following which Governor Ravi walked out of the Assembly.
(With IANS inputs)