Kerala budget session: Gov. Arif Md Khan cuts short policy address, walks out in under two minutes

After reading out the first paragraph, Arif Mohammed Khan jumped to the last paragraph of his address, before winding up the speech

Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: National Herald archives)
Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: National Herald archives)

Ashlin Mathew

Continuing his standoff with the Left Front government in Kerala, governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday cut short his 61-page policy address ahead of the state budget session of the Assembly, wrapping it up in 1.50 seconds.

After reading out the first paragraph, the governor jumped to the last paragraph of the policy address, before winding up the speech. This was one of the shortest policy addresses of a governor in the Kerala Assembly.

This was the closest Khan could do to refuse reading the policy address, during which he would have had to say "my government" on multiple occasions.

According to information, the governor did not even address members of the Assembly before he began reading the policy. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and speaker AN Shamseer escorted the governor out of the Assembly less than two minutes after they had walked in with him.

“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,” read Khan.

In an earlier report, Khan had expressed no dissent with the policy address that had been sent to him by the state government. However, CPI(M) leader and law minister P. Rajeev said the governor had abided by his Constitutional duties to read the policy address.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader V.D. Satheesan slammed Khan, saying he had insulted the Assembly. Satheesan also attacked the state government for preparing the lukewarm speech, where there was hardly anything against the Union government, and said the governor did not even address issues such as democracy and secularism.

Compared to his speech in 2023, in which the LDF had criticised the Union government’s "hegemonic tendencies in religious, linguistic and other arenas which hamper building of a robust democracy", this year’s speech seemed far more pacifist in nature, though it came close on the heels of the Ram temple consecration in Ayodhya.

In November 2023, the state government had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking appropriate orders against Khan as he had been unreasonably delaying the consideration of at least eight bills that the Assembly had passed.

This led to the Supreme Court pulling up the governor later in the month for keeping these eight bills pending for two years, before giving assent to only one and referring the other seven to the President of India.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud pointed out that neither reason nor justification was given by the governor for keeping the bills pending for such an “inordinately long period”.

The court also pointed out that the governor dealt with the bills only after a notice was issued to the Raj Bhavan on 20 November based on the petition filed by Kerala.

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