THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It a time when the LDF government is keenly watching whether Governor Arif Mohammed Khan will read out the remarks against the farm laws in his policy address in the assembly on Friday, Khan has made it clear that the government has every right to air its views.
In an electronic interview with The New Indian Express on Thursday, Khan, however, said the government should do so in a manner that builds consensus and does not provoke conflict. He said the assembly passing a resolution against the farm laws would be part of his report to the President.
Do you think the concerns raised by the state government against the farm laws are unfounded?
How can I challenge anybody for having a view and say the government’s views are unfounded? I may have my own opinion but I shall never try to demean dissent, as it is the soul of democracy. I have not used the term unfounded in any of my communications.
On December 31, the assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to repeal the laws. Recently, you told the media (visual) that there was no requirement to forward the resolution to the Centre. What, then, would you recommend as the next course of action? Would you consider forwarding the resolution to the Union Government if there’s a request from the state government?
What you are attributing to me is not right. In response to a journalist asking me whether I will forward the assembly’s resolution to the Centre, I said the government has made no such request. In fact, I send reports to the President every month and they contain every significant event that happened during that month in the state. Summoning of an emergency session of the assembly and passing a resolution on farm laws is surely important enough to figure in the monthly report.
When the government sought clearance for the special session on December 23, you had sought a clarification. Do you think there were procedural lapses on the government’s part?
Please consider the sequence of events. The government had recommended on December 17, 2020, to summon the assembly Session on January 8 this year and I approved it on December 12, 2020. The same evening, I received another communication saying that the government has decided to withdraw its earlier decision and they have now proposed to hold a special session on December 23, 2020, to “discuss some important issues”. Since the Rule Book makes no mention of a “special session” but provides for a “Session on short notice or emergently”, I was keen to know what unforeseen events happened between December 17 and 21 that necessitated cancelling of the January 8 session and convening the session on December 23. I hold that as far as holding the session as per rules, that requires 15 days notice, the governor must go strictly by the advice of the council of ministers. However, if there is a departure from rules and an emergency provision is invoked, then it is the government’s duty to show the nature of emergency and the grounds which justify invocation of emergency provisions.On December 24, 2020, when the cabinet again proposed to hold an emergency Session on December 31, it was accompanied by a note explaining in detail the issue of farm laws and farmers agitation in Delhi and their likely impact on Kerala. One may agree or disagree with a view, but they fulfilled the procedural requirement and I took no time to approve their recommendation.
The Budget session begins on Friday. Last time, when the government included its disapproval of the Citizenship Amendment Act in the policy address, you chose to openly voice your dissent. This time, the government has included its opinions on the farm laws in the address. What would be your course of action?
I had articulated my views on CAA, much before the matter was taken up by the Kerala Assembly. I did not express dissent, but merely informed the members that citizenship is exclusively a Central subject and no state has any jurisdiction over it. Moreover, CAA was the enactment of a promise made by Mahatma Gandhi and other national leaders to non-Muslims left behind in Pakistan who were reduced to the status of Zimmis. Still, I did not refuse to read the paragraph which was critical of the Central Government. Now, the state government has every right to have its view on farm laws and my advice is to express this in a manner which can help in building a consensus and does not provoke conflict.
After the resolution in the assembly, the government plans to bring in a legislation to bypass the laws. Your take?
It is strange that I am being informed of the plans of my government by you. I am sure that I shall be the first person to know if they have such plans. It is not possible for me to respond to such hypothetical propositions.