Sour Kerala Governor concludes policy address in Assembly in less than two minutes

Arif Mohammed Khan began the address by greeting everyone in the House and then said, "I will now read the last para."
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's frosty relations with the LDF government over a slew of issues hit a new low on Friday when he chose to read out only two paragraphs - the introduction and the last paragraph - of the customary policy address, making it the shortest policy address in the state's history, in the Assembly on Friday.

Khan began the address by greeting everyone in the House and then said, "I will now read the last para."

At one minute and 18 seconds, it was the shortest policy address in the assembly’s history.

Khan and the Left government have been at loggerheads over several issues, primarily about the functioning of universities in the state and his non-signing of certain bills passed by the Assembly.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.
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Khans' policy address, that marked the commencement of the 10th session of the 15th legislative assembly, contained some minor critical references against the Union government.

On his arrival in the Assembly a little before 9 am, the Governor was received by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Speaker AN Shamseer, Parliamentary Affairs Minister K Radhakrishnan and Chief Secretary R Venu.             

As Khan proceeded to the podium, Opposition MLAs were heard asking if the Governor and the government had struck a 'compromise'. The treasury benches retorted by asking what was wrong in it.              

At the beginning of his address at 9 am, Khan read out the first paragraph. He then declared that he was reading only the last paragraph of the policy address, without attributing any reason for it, and finished it in a minute.

"Let us remember that the great legacy lies not in buildings or governments 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 Governor said.

"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 whether 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. Jai Hind," the Governor concluded.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.
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Even the last paragraph of the address that was prepared by the government, was noted for its veiled criticism of the Centre.

The LDF government in Kerala has often accused the Union government of acting against federal and constitutional principles.

Khan left the Assembly soon after the national anthem was played.  

Opposition UDF later tried to raise a point of order in the House saying the Governor hasn't read the policy address. To which, the Speaker advised the Opposition legislators to go through the Assembly rules and procedures.

An official in the legislature secretariat said the policy address is considered as presented even if the governor tables it in the assembly without fully reading it out.

On ‘point of orders’ raised over such incomplete addresses, successive speakers have ruled that unless the governor suggests changes to the address text circulated among MLAs, it can be considered his address. Such rulings have been given in 1996, 2001 and 2018.

Previous record: Six minutes

Until Thursday, the shortest policy address by a governor in the assembly was in 1982. The policy address by then governor Jothi Venkitachalam to mark the start of the seventh session of the sixth legislative assembly, lasted six minutes. K Karunakaran was the CM at the time.

Governor's act tight slap on govt’s face: Surendran

Kozhikode: Governor Arif Mohammed Khan cutting short his policy address in the assembly on Thursday is a slap on the face of the LDF government which tried to blame the Centre for the state’s financial crisis, BJP state president K Surendran has said. He told reporters in Kozhikode on Thursday that the governor’s act has come as a setback for the state government which tried to conduct a fake campaign in the assembly. “The policy address contains lies about the Union government which have been repeated by CPM leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan,” he said.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.
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Governor insulted assembly, says Opposition

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan insulted the Kerala assembly with his action, alleged Opposition UDF. 

Both the Governor and the state government are challenging the people, said Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan. "Whenever the government is in trouble the Governor comes to its rescue. It's part of a clear understanding between the Governor and the government," said Satheesan.

IUML leader PK Kunhalikkutty as well as UDF leaders Mons Joseph, Anoop Jacob, and Mani C Kapoan also criticised the government and the Governor for making a mockery of the state assembly.

LDF, CPI criticise Governor for cutting address short

The Left leadership came down heavily on Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for the dramatic policy address in the House. The governor’s action amounts to disrespect towards the people of the state, said LDF convener E P Jayarajan. CPI state secretary Binoy Viswam termed the governor’s action an insult to the legislative assembly, and a reflection of his narrow politics. Binoy Viswam pointed out that as per the rules, the policy address has become part of the assembly’s procedures.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan during the state assembly proceedings on Jan 25, 2024.
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